I’m guessing that if the solidscape material is anything like the rapidcast material we used to use in our solidscape printer, it’s very wax-like, and doesn’t like any kind of coating. We did some experiments on sealing the wax with various methods to improve the surface finish, but ended up with the same result you got.
What mills and printers have you owned? I’m always curious to see what machines people have/have used.
I have a personal grudge against SolidScape and Stratasys (who now own SolidScape), as they have done more to impede the advancement of 3D printing technology than anyone else. The only reason we can buy 3D printers from anyone else, or build our own now is because their patents ran out (patents they acquired through fairly immoral ways). So, I downright refuse to support them, no matter what products they come out with, but that’s just me stomping my feet . That being said, there is a benefit in FDM printers like the solidscape printers when printing complex shapes, entirely due to the support material. It eliminates the need to add in supports all over the place that you have to clip off and sand or fill in.
As for “you get what you pay for”, I’d say that’s half true. You get a fairly reliable, turn-key product, but 39 grand is a LOT of money, that personally I would rather spend on materials, tools, advertising, etc, etc. You’re also completely locked in to a walled-garden ecosystem. You can get 90% of the way there with far less expensive products, and just need to spend a little time and effort tuning the printer to get the desired results. We’ve paid for our little AnyCubic 100x over already, and are very close to producing almost perfect models with it. When our DLP printer comes in, it’ll be even better. Also, the engineering going in to resins is advancing every day, and it’s just a matter of time before we get castable resins that cast as well, if not better, than wax.
Another benefit to having one of these little resin printers, is that the variety of resins is outstanding, and can be used to make tools and fixtures. I’ve used it to print holders for gravers, saw blades, pliers, as well as holders for awkward engraving jobs (like the lower receiver on a rifle, that my GRS ball just couldn’t hold properly. Little things like that make all the difference to me.
I will absolutely not argue with you on the point that a mill can achieve some darn beautifully smooth waxes. I have some experience with a Mira mill as well. They’re pretty darn fancy, and holy cow do they produce a fine wax…like…wow levels of smooth. BUT, there are downsides to it. You’re locked in to RhinoCAM (or a fork of it at least) to produce the tool paths, and, honestly, I think that is close to the worst CAM software I’ve ever used. If you work entirely in the Rhino environment, and don’t ever stray from NURBS (i.e. don’t import or export stl files), it works ‘ok’, but if you import any kind of model that’s any other kind of file (obj, stl, etc), the tool pathing is amazingly frustrating. I believe they’re working on a post-processor for Fusion360, but it’s down on their list of priorities.
Also, one thing to check when you do get it, is the x-axis anti-backlash nut. It’s a weak point on the mill, and isn’t made strong enough to deal with the forces applied due to the weight of the carriage.