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 Post subject: Shapeways WSF under a microscope
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:42 pm 
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I've always wanted to know what Shapeways WSF material (laser-sintered nylon powder) looks like under a microscope so I decided to get one and stick the piece under it to find out.

If you've even ordered from Shapeways you know how much powder is on the pieces. I figured the first order of business would be to put the powder all by itself under a microscope:
Attachment:
powder.png
powder.png [ 564.61 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


To provide some size context, here is the powder alongside a human hair:
Attachment:
powder_with_hair_2.png
powder_with_hair_2.png [ 273.83 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


And here is a close-up of the hair and powder:
Attachment:
powder_with_hair.png
powder_with_hair.png [ 469.24 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]

The size of the grains of nylon seem to vary from about 1/10th up to 1/2 the width of a hair. I made a VIDEO OF THE POWDER AND HAIR.


I then put a piece under the microscope. Of course I made a VIDEO OF THE SURFACE OF A PIECE too. Here is the surface of the piece:
Attachment:
piece_surface_2.png
piece_surface_2.png [ 566.23 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


Here is the same piece at greater magnification:
Attachment:
piece_surface.png
piece_surface.png [ 515.22 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


There was a grain of metal embedded in the surface:
Attachment:
piece_with_metal.png
piece_with_metal.png [ 532.45 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


I decided to sand down the piece and look at the smooth sanded surface:
Attachment:
piece_sanded_1.png
piece_sanded_1.png [ 540.74 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


Here is a stronger magnification of the sanded surface:
Attachment:
piece_sanded_2.png
piece_sanded_2.png [ 520.82 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]



Compare that to a piece I polished in a rock tumbler:
Attachment:
piece_polished_1.png
piece_polished_1.png [ 454.91 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


Here is another view of the polished surface:
Attachment:
piece_polished_2.png
piece_polished_2.png [ 438.64 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]


Here is the polished piece with a grain of nylon powder sitting on the surface:
Attachment:
piece_polished_3.png
piece_polished_3.png [ 578.77 KiB | Viewed 1408 times ]



Clearly the pieces come from the printer with an outer shell of partially bonded powder. Sanding the pieces seems to remove that shell but leave a bunch of shredded fibers. Polishing makes them silky smooth.

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Last edited by Brandon Enright on Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Shapeways WSF under a microscope
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 7:37 pm
Very interesting. Pretty sure I spotted a Higgs boson in there.

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 Post subject: Re: Shapeways WSF under a microscope
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:52 pm 
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Tony Fisher wrote:
Very interesting. Pretty sure I spotted a Higgs boson in there.

I want to put your Subatomic Cylinder Cube under a microscope :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Shapeways WSF under a microscope
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:08 pm 
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Location: San Francisco, CA
One request: piece with a bit of cyanoacrylate applied?


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 Post subject: Re: Shapeways WSF under a microscope
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:38 pm 
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Joshua Bell wrote:
One request: piece with a bit of cyanoacrylate applied?

Huh it turns out to be much less impressive that I thought it would be:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkknTnZEODM

It soaks down into the crevices and barely coats the pieces at all. Just enough to make them a bit reflective and refractive.

It was hard to take a picture that actually captured this but here goes:
Attachment:
piece_super_glue_1.png
piece_super_glue_1.png [ 617.41 KiB | Viewed 1348 times ]


And:
Attachment:
piece_super_glue_2.png
piece_super_glue_2.png [ 574.7 KiB | Viewed 1348 times ]

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