At Graphite, we offer our parts in a variety of finishing options. We have over 50 different finishing combinations between our primary and secondary options, to provide you with the most suitable finish for your application.

Primary finishing is the initial step taken before your parts leave our workshop. This will give your parts the required surface finish. Secondary finishing can then be done to provide additional functionality or change the cosmetic appearance of a part.

Primary options

Basic

Basic finish, as the name suggests, is the lowest level of finish we offer at Graphite. In this process, the parts are cleaned and any support material is removed.

It is important to note that build layer lines will still be visible. It is advised that only materials printed using the SLA, SLM or FDM technologies choose this finish. Typical applications include functional resin and metal parts and dissolvable mandrel technology.

Cosmetic

The next level up from Basic is Cosmetic and is used for different applications depending on which technology you are using. For SLS, Cosmetic is the standard finish as it doubles up as the secondary cleaning process, removing all the excess powder around the parts left from the manufacturing process. The part also becomes shinier as a result, like the lead of a pencil. Typical applications include component housings, ducting, scale models and hand-held devices.

Cosmetic finish for SLA offers a smoother finish than Basic but not as smooth as a Sanded finish. It removes all the build layer lines and offers superior aesthetics when compared to Basic. It can be used to give Watershed a frosted glass effect.

Sanded and Sanded-Exterior

For those who require a smoother finish than the standard, we offer sanding of our parts. This is available for all technologies but in some cases, it may not be suitable for all materials.

In this process, our skilled technicians sand the parts by hand, progressing through the grits to get a fine finish. Sanded-Exterior finish, a derivative of the Sanded finish, is a process where we only sand up to 50% of the available surface area and is applicable when the customer only wants certain areas smoothed.

Typical applications for sanded finish include manifolds and dashboard components where a smooth, matt finish may be desired.

For Sanded-Exterior, typical applications include visible component casings – where only one side will be seen, or the A-surface of composite tool where the other sides are not used to mould the composite.

Sanded and Sanded-Exterior Deluxe

For customers who require the very highest level of surface finish and appearance of SLS parts. This finish takes the sanded finish to the next level with additional finishing to get the best surface finish possible.

This finish produces the most uniform surface and is halfway between the lighter finish of Cosmetic and the muted tones of Sanded. Orientation plays a large role in the success of Sanded-Deluxe as the surface is so fine that lines start to appear and the Carbon content in the material reflects light in the orientation that they were built. This can often be mitigated by our skilled programmers orientating the part optimally.

This finish is only applicable for SLS and MJF where typical applications include engine trumpets and premium automotive interior parts.

Clear Polished

Clear-Polished takes Watershed SLA to the next level with near glass-like transparency, comparable to injection moulded surfaces.

This manual process takes a lot of elbow grease to achieve but the results are worth the costs for certain applications. Like Clear-Lacquered, this finish is only applicable for the SLA material Watershed.

Typical applications include glass or injection moulded transparent plastic prototypes and dials with complex geometries.

Clear Lacquered 

This finish is only applicable for the SLA material Watershed to produce a more transparent finish. Whilst not quite glass-like, the lacquer does help to increase the amount of light that can pass through the part by masking imperfections in the surface of the un-lacquered part. This finish is, therefore, a step up from Watershed Basic but still below our finial primary finish, Clear-Polished. Typical applications include prototypes, headlamp covers and liquid level indicators.

Secondary options

Thermal Post Cure

Thermal Post Cure is a process used to strengthen and toughen our SLA ceramic-resin material, PerFORM. By putting the material through a thermal cycle after manufacture, the part becomes 15-20% stronger (in both tensile and flexural scenarios) and ~15% tougher too. It enhances the material in other properties also, such as the materials resistant to heat, increasing the Heat Deflection Temperature (at 0.46MPa) by over 100%, from 132oC to 268oC. Typical applications include wind tunnel test parts, tooling for injection moulding and other high temperature applications.

Vapour Smoothing

This chemical process has multiple benefits. As the name suggests, it can take your parts to the next level of smoothness giving our high-quality parts a slick, glossy finish to match. In addition to this, Vapour Smoothing is a great way to seal parts and make them oil and water tight. This process is applicable for materials manufactured using the SLS and MJF technologies. Typical Applications include: underwater applications, injection moulding prototypes, hand held devices and visual components on dashboards or central consoles. This is a process we are offering to perform on 3rd party parts, as well as those manufactured in house if desired.

Hand Sealing

Hand Sealing is a manual process in which it is necessary for some of our materials, namely Graphite SLS and Carbon SLS, to undergo in order to be water and oil proof. This is a tried and tested method, developed in-house, which leaves the materials suitable for under bonnet uses and seafaring missions alike. Typical applications include wire loom guides, engine baffles and yacht components such as those seen in our case study on the racing boats of the F50 League.

Painting

Graphite AM has produced many display models and show exhibits over the years and many of these required a paint job and decals worthy of the event. Be it a base coat, two-tone or more, we are able to provide a part to the specification you require. Typical applications include showpieces and automotive interior parts.

Metal Plating

A few microns of metal can be applied to the surface of our parts should you wish to have a metallic finish or require the properties it provides. The metals available are Nickle, Copper, Chrome, Silver & Gold. These can be finished in a variety of ways too, including brushed, shiny, high gloss, satin and pearlescent. On top of purely being aesthetically pleasing, metal plating can be used to stiffen and strengthen applications that are required to be thin and inherently weaker geometries. Typical applications include stiffening thin wind tunnel pieces and making a part electrically conductive.

Radio Frequency Shielding

Similar to metal plating, parts can be plated in a material that blocks radio frequencies (RF) from penetrating the wall. This can be applied to one side or both sides or potentially just one area of a component to shield delicate internal electrical systems from RF disruption or damage. Typical applications include casing/housing for sensitive electrical components in handheld devices or unmanned/remote robotics.