Automated post processing of 3D printed metal and plastic components
Post processing solutions that meet the requirements for volume production
Companies across many industries have come to the conclusion that additive manufacturing will make them less dependent on traditional supply chains. However, an essential pre-condition for this approach is that the post processing operations must comply with the requirements for volume production. AM Solutions – 3D post processing technology is eeting these challenges with new solutions for the automated post processing and efinement of 3D printed metal and plastic components. In parallel, the division AM Solutions – Manufacturing service partner supports the development and production of AM components with comprehensive services.
Additive manufacturing offers companies the potential to become less dependent on traditional supply chains and, at the same time, make their production operations more flexible and faster. However, the post-processing of 3D printed components is frequently a stumbling block against achieving these goals. On the one hand many post processing steps still require costly manual work, and on the other hand the post processing operations are limited to handling single components or extremely small production ots.
This does not allow compliance with the established standards for volume production, namely consistent and repeatable product quality, process control, cost-efficiency and sustainability. AM Solutions – 3D post processing technology, a division of the Rösler group that specializes in the automated post processing of 3D printed components produced in large volumes, now offers new equipment that allows a way out of this dilemma.
Safe and stable post processing of plastic components in 24/7
operation With the new S2 system AM Solutions – 3D post processing echnology offers the so far only continuous flow shot blast machine for post processing of 3D printed plastic components produced with powder-bed printing systems. The ATEX compliant plug-and-play machine was designed for round-the-clock three-shift operation and is equipped with interfaces llowing its integration into interlinked manufacturing lines. The work pieces are loaded into the machine as complete print jobs. The loading takes place either by hand or automatically. Once in the machine, the plastic components are gently passing through a special feed loop belt in single piece flow. The tumbling action of the components ensures that they are equally blasted from all sides so that any residual powder is consistently and completely removed from the component surface. Depending on the utilized blast media, the work piece surface can also be homogenized and/or peened. The machine can be equipped with up to four blast nozzles. The number of blast nozzles, the blast pressure and the transport speed can be individually adapted to the respective work pieces. These process parameters can then be stored in the control panel as individual processing recipes. On average, a print job requires cycle times of 15 to 20 minutes. Depending on the condition of the raw work pieces, the Ra surface roughness readings can be reduced by up to 13 µm.
To ensure that the blast media remains at a consistently high quality, the compact shot blast machine is equipped with an effective blast media cleaning and recycling system. This, in combination with the integrated electronic reporting tool, guarantees repeatability of the blasting results, complete process control and a high cost-efficiency of the post processing operation. A patent application covering the machine and the process is pending.
Eco-friendly chemical surface smoothing and application of a color dye – at low costs
The C2, presented as a concept solution, illustrates that AM Solutions – 3D post processing technology has its origins in the development and production of machinery and consumables for volume production. This patent-pending innovation enables fully automatic chemical surface smoothing of 3D printed components made of common polymers and elastomers (including TPU) in series. Thus, the costly single piece handling of the work pieces is completely eliminated for this post processing operation. The bounding box allows the processing of work piece dimensions ranging from 10 x 10 x 10 to 300 x 300 x 300 mm and a wall thickness of at least two millimeters. In addition, the process includes a newly developed, non-hazardous processing media that was specially developed by AM Solutions – 3D post processing technology. This ensures that the surface smoothing operation is not only eco-friendly but that the subsequent waste disposal is not subject to any environmental restrictions and is cost-effective.
The innovative C2 chemical surface smoothing system, for which a patent application is pending, can be retrofitted for applying a color dye on plastic components. The C2 will be commercial available in the first quarter of 2022.