How to 3D Print Waterproof Parts
If you need to 3D print a part that will be exposed to water, there are a few things you can do to make sure it stays waterproof. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the methods you can use to make your 3D prints waterproof. We will also provide tips on how to select the right materials for your project.
Is it possible to 3D print waterproof parts?
3D printing technology has come a long way in recent years, and it is now possible to print parts that are strong, durable, and waterproof. This is thanks to the development of new materials that can withstand exposure to water without distortion or damage. In addition, many 3D printers now come equipped with special settings that help to prevent moisture from seeping into the finished product. As a result, it is now possible to create parts that are both waterproof and 3D printed.
As technology advances, the ability to 3D print waterproof parts will be a game-changer for many industries. Already businesses are starting to print plumbing fixtures; imagine the change as everything from gaskets to boat hulls become 3D printable, without having to worry about water damage. Waterproof 3D printing will also open up new possibilities for outdoor applications, such as printed sculptures or fountains.
While to some it may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, 3D printing waterproof parts is already a reality. There are already a few different types of 3D printers on the market, and the technology is only getting better. Stereolithography, for example, is a type of 3D printing that uses an ultraviolet (UV) curing process to seal the material and prevent water from penetrating the print. As the technology continues to develop, it is likely that we will see more and more uses for this amazing technology.
However, it is also possible to get a respectable level of waterproof using more common types of 3D printing and materials. This article is geared towards applications such as small items or prototypes that you want to 3D print and are waterproof.
Is it possible to 3D print waterproof and watertight parts?
Waterproof vs. watertight
And a quick sidenote! There is a difference between waterproof and watertight. Although the terms are used interchangeably, they have different meanings.
In the context of this article, waterproof means that an object is impervious to water, and won’t break down by contact with water or being submerged in water.
Watertight, on the other hand, means that an object is sealed so tightly that no water can enter. This term is typically used in reference to containers, such as bottles or bags, that are designed to keep water in or out.
What matters when you’re 3D printing waterproof parts?
When it comes to 3D printing, there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to produce waterproof parts. The first is the material you're using, as some materials are naturally more resistant to water than others. The second thing to consider are your slicer settings. For example, you can use a higher infill percentage or print with a thicker wall thickness to increase the water resistance. Finally, there are some post-processing techniques that can be used to make your prints more waterproof. One common method is to apply a coat of resin or varnish to the surface of the print. This will create a barrier that will help to keep water out.
Let’s go into a bit more detail on how you can produce parts that are resistant to water damage.
The material used for 3D printing waterproof parts
When it comes to 3d printing waterproof parts, there are a few different materials that you can choose from.
PLA and ABS are both popular choices, and PETG is becoming increasingly popular as well. Each of these materials has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the right one for your specific needs.
PLA is popular as it is cheap and readily available, but it can be difficult to print with and is not as flexible as some other materials. Over time it can absorb water and swell, so consider your application: a bath toy that sees occasional use vs. a water feature for your garden that is going to be wet day in and day out.
ABS is another popular choice. It has good heat resistance (better than PLA) and doesn’t swell as much as some other materials. However, it is not as strong as PLA and can be difficult to work with. One of the main reasons to use it is that you can post-process it with acetone, as discussed later.
PETG is a newer material that is becoming more popular, as it is stronger than PLA and more flexible than ABS. It can be a bit difficult to print with and isn't as widely available as some other materials; however, it is well known for its durability and strength, as well as resistance to high temperatures, water, and solvents. It is likely an appropriate choice for most waterproof parts.
Which slicer settings to use for printing waterproof parts?
Best slicer settings for 3D printing waterproof parts
A key point to consider is the slicer settings, as that can determine how well your 3D printer can produce waterproof parts.
If you are looking to produce waterproof parts, then you will need to use a slicer setting that is specifically designed for this purpose. There are a few different slicer settings that you can choose from, but the best one to use is the “spiralize outer contour” setting. This setting will allow your 3D printer to produce parts that have a smooth, watertight surface.
Additionally, you may also want to use a support material when printing waterproof parts. This material will help to prevent your parts from warping or deforming during the printing process.
Post processing techniques for 3D printing are used to treat or modify the surface of a 3D printed object. There are many different post processing techniques, but some of the most common include using acetone, epoxy, or wax.
Each of these materials has unique properties that can be used to waterproof parts.
Acetone vapor bath is a popular method for treating 3D printed parts to make them waterproof. The acetone vapor penetrates the pores of the material and bonds with the polymer chains, creating a water-resistant surface. This method is typically used for ABS parts, but it can also be used on other materials such as PLA and PETG.
Epoxy coating is another option for making 3D printed parts waterproof. Epoxy is a resin that can be applied to the surface of the part. Once it cures, it forms a durable barrier that is resistant to water. This method can be used on parts made from any material, but it is important to choose an epoxy that is compatible with the material of the part.
Wax dip is a third method that can be used to make 3D printed parts waterproof. This method involves dipping the part in melted wax. The wax fills in the pores of the material, creating a water-resistant barrier. Wax dip is typically used on parts made from porous materials such as plaster or wood filament. It can also be used on parts made from other materials, but it is important to choose a wax that is compatible with the material of the part.
Appropriate uses for waterproof 3D printed parts
3D printers have shown great promise in the creation of waterproof parts. This technology can be used to create everything from seals and gaskets to medical implants and prosthetics. On the “less-critical” end of the spectrum you’ll find soap dishes, bath toys, cups, vases; but other uses include gaskets, seals, and O-rings. Custom shaped spouts, nozzles and end caps could all be made using 3D printing, as can impellers, shaft seals and grommets.
In addition, 3D-printed parts can be used in outdoor applications such as fountains and rain gutters. With the ability to withstand exposure to water, 3D-printed parts are helping to open up new possibilities for this versatile technology – take a look at these 3D printed faucets, that seem to make water appear from nowhere!
Many people still think of 3D printing only as a way to create prototypes or small trinkets. However, 3D printers are also capable of creating functional waterproof parts for everything from industrial uses to interior design.