While life would be so much easier if all of our 3D prints came off the print bed looking sparkly and perfect (okay, maybe not sparkly), post-processing and finishing techniques are a necessary evil if you want good-looking prints – it’s often called the dirty little secret of 3D printing. Extrusion-based 3D printing processes can cause model striations, and everything from moisture in the air, temperature variances, and even necessary rafts or supports can create imperfections like bumps, ridges, and scarring.
While the Rize One 3D printer can mostly eliminate post-processing for industrial-grade jobs, it’s a little much for smaller models. Lucky for us, 3D 2.0 Limited (also known as Full Circle Labs at one point) has announced that, after extensive user testing and product development, its crowdfunded Retouch3D finishing tool is now fully available for purchase.
“We want to thank our backers and all of those who pre-ordered for sticking with us,” said 3D 2.0 Limited Co-Founder Phil Newman. “We were always determined to complete Retouch3D and wanted to make sure it performed to the level that 3D printer owners require to get good results from their 3D prints.”
Far easier and less time-consuming to use than soldering irons or sanding, the handheld heated Retouch3D tool was designed to repair and post-process 3D printed models, and first launched through a Kickstarter campaign in March of 2015; it was fully funded within 48 hours. The tool has five easily interchangeable tips – the Blender Head, Macro Remover, Micro Remover, Macro Refiner, and Micro Refiner – which allow the user to complete simple touch-ups of their 3D printed objects, and the company says it’s the first heated tool in the world to “finish 3D prints with variable heat and interchangeable heads designed for specific 3D retouching tasks.”
According to its creators, the Retouch3D, which weighs less than 4 oz, can easily refine layer imperfections, blend and smooth rough areas and layers, and cut through support material. With various grip positions, it also fits comfortably in your hand.
Not long after the crowdfunding campaign kicked off, the company began working on a refined version of the heated tool, adding a new control system that included features such as temperature control and material flexibility. The campaign was ultimately successful, raising more than $56,000 (the original goal was $30,000), and over 400 units in 16 different countries were pre-sold.
As the Retouch3D entered its beta testing phase in the summer of 2016, the company began working to raise investment capital, and launched an Invesdor crowdfunding campaign that would help in building the infrastructure that was necessary for a full-scale retail launch of the tool. Additionally, new functionalities were planned to enhance the tool so it could be used as a soldering iron and a wax sculpting tool for dental technicians.
The company spent longer than originally planned on developing the Retouch3D, and the tool went through a complete product redesign halfway through the process. But now, with the success of its Kickstarter campaign and its investment raising efforts, 3D 2.0 is ready for growth.
According to the company’s blog, the handy Retouch3D tool began shipping to Kickstarter backers last month, and it’s now available to purchase directly through the website for $160. Plans are also in place to sell it through specialist 3D printer retailers and mainstream channels early this year.
The Retouch3D is mainly targeted for use with desktop FFF 3D printers, which can still be frustrating for users when dealing with print anomaly clean-up and getting rid of excess, unwanted material. But thanks to the tool’s heat range, it’s also able to manage the manipulation and reheating of filament types for all mainstream 3D printers. Additionally, it can also be used to touch up 3D printed models created by other 3D printing technologies that use heat to process prints.