Automated post-processing of 3D printed metal and plastic components
By Alexander Stark
Companies in many industries have come to the conclusion that additive manufacturing makes them less dependent on traditional supply chains. An essential prerequisite for this procedure, however, is that the post-processing corresponds to the requirements for series production.
Additive manufacturing offers companies the potential to become less dependent on traditional supply chains while at the same time making their production more flexible and faster. However, Post-processing of 3D-printed components is often a stumbling block against achieving these goals. On the one hand many post-processing steps still require expensive manual workOn the other hand, post-processing is limited to the handling of individual components or the smallest production batches. This means that the established standards for series production, namely constant and reproducible product quality, process control, economic efficiency and sustainability, cannot be adhered to. AM Solutions – 3D Postprocessing Technology, a division of the RÃ¶sler Group that has specialized in the automated post-processing of 3D-printed components produced in large numbers, is now offering new devices that enable a way out of this dilemma.
Safe and stable post-processing of plastic parts in 24/7 operation
With the new S2 system AM Solutions – the 3D postprocessing technology is the only one to date Continuous blasting machine for post-processing of 3D-printed plastic components that were produced with powder bed printing systems. The Atex compliant plug and play machine was designed for three-shift operation around the clock and is equipped with interfaces that enable integration into linked production lines. The workpieces are loaded into the machine as complete print jobs. Loading is done either manually or automatically. Once in the machine the plastic parts run gently through a special loop belt in single-piece flow. Due to the tumbling effect of the components, they are evenly irradiated from all sides, so that powder residues are evenly and completely removed from the component surface. Depending on the abrasive used, the workpiece surface can also be homogenized and / or blasted. The machine can be equipped with up to four jet nozzles. The number of blasting nozzles, the blasting pressure and the transport speed can be individually adapted to the respective workpieces. 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 nature of the raw workpieces, the Ra surface roughness values ââcan be reduced by up to 13 Âµm.
In order to guarantee a consistently high quality of blasting media, the compact blasting machine is equipped with an effective abrasive cleaning and recycling system. In combination with the integrated electronic reporting tool, this guarantees repeatability of the blasting results, complete process control and high profitability of post-processing. A patent application for the machine and the process is pending.
Environmentally friendly chemical surface smoothing and application of a dye
The C2 presented as a concept solution makes it clear that AM Solutions – 3D postprocessing technology has its origin in the development and production of machines and consumables for series production. This innovation, for which a patent is pending, is made possible fully automatic chemical surface smoothing of 3D-printed components from common polymers and elastomers (including TPU) in series. In this way, the time-consuming individual handling of the workpieces is completely eliminated. The bounding box enables the processing of workpiece dimensions 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, harmless processing medium that was specially developed by AM Solutions – 3D post-processing technology. This ensures that the surface smoothing process is not only environmentally friendly, but also that the subsequent waste disposal is not subject to any environmental restrictions and is inexpensive.
The C2 chemical surface smoothing system (patent pending) can be retrofitted to apply a color to plastic components. The C2 will be commercially available in the first quarter of 2022.
Specially developed wet blasting system for 3D printed components
Wet blasting is an established and efficient process for surface finishing for metal or plastic components manufactured in large numbers. With the S1 Wet System, AM Solutions – 3D Postprocessing Technology has adapted the advantages of this surface treatment process to the specific requirements of additive manufacturing. The flexible blasting system S1 can be used for Cleaning as well as surface homogenization and smoothing of various workpieces. A key feature of this technology is that the Blasting media and process water are mixed to form a slurry. Depending on the initial surface roughness of the workpieces, their Ra values ââcan be reduced considerably. To some extent, this is even possible on internal surface passageways and cavities. Since the water in the slurry forms a protective layer on the components, the process is very gentle. It also prevents media particles from penetrating the surface of plastic and soft metal components. Another benefit of the wet process is that it can maintains dimensional accuracy and prevents sensitive workpieces from warping with complex shapes and thin walls. Wet blasting also prevents the development of dust and therefore does not require any protective Atex accessories.
Another feature of the compact plug-and-play system S1 Wet is its small footprint. In an area of ââonly 2.6 mÂ²2 it offers everything that is required for efficient and sustainable operation. Not only the control panel is integrated into the machine, but also the monitoring of the blasting system to ensure a repeatable process, the air filter system and the wastewater management. The discharged wastewater flows into a sedimentation basin to collect most of the sludge. This sludge-like material can go through further drainage optional process water purification and recycling system integrated into the S1 machine. This significantly reduces water consumption and disposal costs, according to the company. Additional equipment options, adapted to the respective processing task, enable the use of the S1 Wet from the manual processing of individual components to the fully automatic processing of complete batches of workpieces.
Manufacturing service partner – support from the idea to post-processing
AM Solutions – Manufacturing Servicepartner specializes in services related to additive manufacturing. the The range of services covers the entire AM process chain and is also designed for the requirements of series production. The Italian company of the RÃ¶sler Group covers all phases of the product development process, from the basic conception and testing of the product idea through technical and economic feasibility studies, product development and prototype creation to large-scale production, including post-processing. The aim is to utilize the advantages of additive manufacturing on a component-specific basis through the optimal use of state-of-the-art technologies and extensive know-how, so that innovative components can be created in a significantly shorter development time and time-to-time. Market periods.