If you ask makers what their least favorite part of the 3D printing process is, a lot of them will probably point to post-processing as the most hair-pullingly stressful phase.There’s nothing like the frustration of a mostly successful print job ruined by small mistakes in the end stages. Unfortunately, that can be a common occurrence, especially for beginners, and especially when supports are involved. Supports are wonderful things that allow the printing of objects that would otherwise collapse during printing, but they tend to leave little defects in the surface of the finished model. Fixing these defects is time-consuming, difficult, and can lead to disasters that leave you wishing you had just left the imperfect surface alone.
The usual method of repair is to draw some liquid resin into a syringe and then inject it into the surface defects, curing it with UV light in the form of sunlight or a lamp. Syringes, however, can be unpredictable tools. How many times have you attempted to carefully release just a drop of resin into a small surface nick, only to have the liquid squirt everywhere, blobbing up your almost-perfect print? Too many times, says 3D printer manufacturer 3DFacture, and so they created a tool to make repairs neat, easy, and flawless.
The Fixer3D is something like a whiteout pen for 3D prints. An automatic, programmable syringe pump, powered by a micro step motor, injects tiny drops of resin into the defect; you can control it to release one drop at a time, or continuous streams for larger errors. It’s much more controllable than an ordinary syringe, but if you do accidentally release too much resin, not to worry – the Fixer can suck it right back up. The other end of the pen contains a small LED UV light so you can instantly cure the resin.
The Fixer3D works on any UV curable resin, but defect repair is only one of its possible applications. It can also be used as a glue for piecing together large, multi-part prints, and, according to the 3DFacture team, it can serve as an adhesive for non-printed objects as well: plastic, wood, metal, even fabric. They also suggest using it to insulate or repair electronic components on a circuit board, or even as a precise mini-extruder for tiny 3D prints. The cordless tool is powered by a lithium ion battery that can be charged via USB cable.
The Fixer3D is currently gathering funds on Kickstarter; with over a month left to reach their modest goal of $5,000, I’d be surprised if they don’t make it. This isn’t 3DFacture’s first Kickstarter campaign; last year they successfully raised over $100,000 for their innovative Draken 3D printer. There’s plenty of incentive to support the new campaign: for a contribution of $99 you’ll get a Fixer3D plus four syringes, four interchangeable tips, a USB cable, and four sanding sheets. That’s the early bird reward, however; currently there are eight slots left, after which the required contribution will go up to $129. $149 will get you the same package, but with your syringes pre-filled with UV resin. Contribute $299 and you’ll get beta tester status; you’ll receive one Fixer for beta testing and then another after production is finished, plus ten syringes, tips, and sanding sheets.
Additionally, the Fixer’s firmware is open-source so that you can customize it. You can change the pre-programmed speeds, curing time, operating sequence or more. It really looks like a handy little tool that will make a great addition to your printing supplies; check out the video below to see it in action. Is this something you need in your toolbox? Discuss in the 3D Printing Post Processing Tools forum over at 3DPB.com.