An experiment in polishing ABS, using increasingly finer wet-sanding paper, a special-purpose plastic polisher (Xerapol) and silicone spray.
I used my recently uploaded arcade stick (thing 30008) to experiment a bit with polishing ABS. Attached photos are the results of almost two days of polishing (what fun!). Unfortunately my time is up on this one for now, or I guess the results could be smoother/shinier still.
The main unsolved issue consists of some small gaps/holes, which I'm not sure how to best fill up. I tried to fill them up with ABS juice, but didn't get that to work well. The holes remained after sanding or things got discolored. Perhaps some acetone could fix the latter, but I haven't tried. Or perhaps it works better to fill the holes with warm plastic or use heating somehow. Or I just need to use better plastic or increase my extrusion multiplier, or use a better printer (this was done using a classic mendel..). In any case, if these holes can be filled neatly, spectacular results should be possible.
In all, this experiment gave me the confidence that it should be possible to get a really perfect finish for ABS prints, well, at least given infinite time and patience.
So I used sanding paper, starting with cheap 80 and 150 grit. I'm wondering a bit about the quality of these, since I always end up with some scratches. Next I used more professional wet-sanding paper, with grits 280, 320, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 2000, 3000 and 5000 (slightly overkill perhaps). Finally I used Xerapol (xerapol.com), to make things shine again. I haven't compared Xerapol to, say, toothpaste, so I can't really say how well it works on ABS. It didn't really impress me a lot, but perhaps that was just because I wasn't able to reach 5000 scratch-free.
In the end I added a bit of silicone spray, which seemed to give a bit of extra shine.
I'd love to hear suggestions on how to improve these results, especially of course on how to cleanly fill minor holes/imperfections. Or on how to further improve the results using some kind of wax or lacquer perhaps?