Cleaning Up 3D Printed Models

This week’s post will be a short one as my wife has got us tickets to see the new Hobbit movie, so I am off to the cinema, but I promise I won’t give any spoilers!  Last week I shared with you my new 3D printed O Scale UP water tenders for the excursion train, you can find the post here.  So this week I will share some of the work I am doing on the tenders, starting with cleaning them up.

The tenders have been printed in Shapeways’ Frosted Detail material. Models printed FD or FUD (Frosted Ultra Detail) have a waxy residue and need to be soaked in Bestine, Goo Gone or somthing similar. This leaves a powder on the surface which is the dried up wax residue.  I have also found that models in FD have more powder than models in FUD.  To remove the powder on my N Scale models I normally use a soft toothbrush and gently scrub the model.  This does not always remove it all, particularly from the difficult-to-reach areas.  To get over this I have a soft brush that fits onto my mini drill, similar to a Dremel tool. Mini Drill - Soft Brush With the large surface area of the O scale tenders this made the job much faster and helped me get into all the tricky areas such as around the grab-rail posts.  These can be delicate and the toothbrush has an increased possibility of knocking them off.

With all the loose powder removed any areas showing evidence of the printing process become clear.  On these particular models it was on the curved ends.  You can see in the picture below that there are ‘veins’ running down the end of the tender.

O Scale Tendre ends (Rough)

These are actually plastic and attached to the model.  To remove these I use my mini drill again with a small sanding stone bit; because it is tapered it allows me to get the flat surface across the face of the model.  The trick here is a little bit at a time, if you go at too hard it is very easy to remove too much.

Mini Drill - Small Sanding Stone

Once the area is ground flat, I use the soft brush bit again to remove any new dust.  In the picture below you can see the finished surface.  It is smooth to the touch.  You can still see the marks where the ‘veins’ were but these will disappear when the model is painted.

O Scale Tender Ends (Smoothed)

Painting the tenders will be the next step and I will share that with you in a later post.