FDM 3D printed parts have a range of applications, from functional prototypes to end-use parts, but they can also be quite valuable on a shop floor, serving as fixtures and assembly aids. When rolling out new product lines or getting new staff up to speed, they can help bridge a knowledge gap to save time and money.
Though not often required, the visual properties of an FDM part can be improved using chemical vapor smoothing. This process can be simple, using just a brush and acetone (or other solvent) to paint the part, or more complex, using an enclosed volume with circulating air and acetone vapor passing over the part. Both methods attempt to smooth the layer lines from an FDM print by melting the print material with a chemical solvent. Melting the external layer smooths the “peaks” and “valleys” in a printed part.