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TPU Finishing: The Art of Perfecting Surface Finishes

Updated: Mar 14

Background


As pioneers in the UK market for powder bed printing of flexible TPU, we stand out as the go-to choice for many clients outsourcing their TPU printing needs to us, even including other service bureaus. This is largely due to our commitment to investing in finishing technologies that seamlessly complement MJF (Multi Jet Fusion) TPU production.



As Built (Raw Grey)


Untreated MJF TPU parts bear a resemblance to standard PA12 Nylon parts, characterized by a 'grainy' texture and a grey colour. This option is the most economical, ideal for functional parts that may not be visible to the end-user.



3D Printed parts in TPU material with no finishing applied.  They have a grainy grey texture.


Dyed (DyeMansion DM60)


The most efficient method to alter the colour of MJF parts is through dyeing. Our services utilize a DyeMansion DM60 system equipped with dye cartridges specifically tailored for BASF's TPU01 material, ensuring uniform coloration throughout the entire part.



3D Printed pipe in TPU material.  It is grainy but unlike the last image it is now black.

Vapour Smoothed (AMT PostPro)


As an official partner with AMT, the innovators behind the PostPro Vapour Smoothing machine, we attract numerous customers who entrust us with their MJF printed parts for our smoothing expertise. Vapour smoothing serves two primary objectives:


  1. Minimizing surface porosity by reducing surface energy.

  2. Diminishing surface roughness to achieve a smoother finish.


This technique is particularly effective with TPU, making it a preferred choice among our clientele. Interestingly, the colour undergoes significant darkening during smoothing (Note: these parts have not undergone dyeing).



3D Printed TPU Pipe with a glossy black finish.

Dyed & Smoothed


While smoothing already induces considerable darkening in colour, it doesn't reach the depth achieved by combining dyeing and vapour smoothing.



A comparison of 4 3D printed pipes with different levels of finish.


Zooming into details such as text reveals how the dyeing process significantly enhances colour consistency.



A comparrison that shows combining dye with vapour smoothing improves the quality of the text on a 3D printed part.

Conclusion


MJF printed TPU offers a range of surface finishes, each with distinct advantages. Selecting the appropriate finish to align with your application is crucial for maximizing the potential of this material.

Experience real examples of these finishing options first-hand by ordering our sample pack.

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