Optical profilometry has been used to characterize the surface finish of Facilan™ C8 prints and regular ABS filament. By this method, the sample is not damaged since optical profilometry is a non-contact technique that uses white light to analyze the surface topography and detect step heights at the sample surface.
The study has been performed in comparison with a standard quality of ABS. For this purpose, simple objects have been manufactured on the same printer machine (Ultimaker 2+) using same printing settings and object design (the layer height of the sample is 0,2 mm). Only the printing temperature differs (210°C for Facilan™ C8 and 260°C for ABS). The profilometry measurements have been performed on the top surface of the samples printed in the XY plane and 3D maps of the surfaces have been extracted. See image below.
From these 3D surface maps, it can clearly be seen that the topography of Facilan™ C8 print surface is smoother than ABS print surface. Indeed Facilan™ C8 print possess a regular top surface topography and exhibits relatively low steps, while ABS top surface print is more irregular and shows significantly higher steps. Below are presented the overlay of the two dimensional profiles of Facilan™ C8 and ABS.
Overlay of 2D profiles of C8 (in red) and ABS (in green) [AltiSurf 500 from Altimet, Altimap software]
Even if same printing settings and object design have been used, both prints top surfaces exhibit very different topography. Top surface topography is very dependent of the intrinsic properties of the material itself, such as its thermo-mechanical properties and viscosity behaviour.
Profilometry analysis should be used as complementary information to the tactile perception description. We can conclude that the results from the profilometry study are in direct relationship with the special soft touch feeling of Facilan™ C8 experienced by our users.