Additive Manufacturing Industry Standards: Why Not Post-Processing?

3D printing plasticsPositive indicators for Additive Manufacturing’s widespread adoption appear in the news every week. The recent announcement of a newly formed Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence is another sign of how the industry is growing up, realizing the need for “standards to create a common language and consistency in materials and processes, efficient testing, and applications use”. Bravo!

However, for this endeavor to truly be a success, the market’s dirty little post-processing secret must be addressed. This is, of course, the minimally-discussed reality of unfinished parts off the printer.

We continue to hear from customers who implement 3D printers into their operations without understanding the requirements for post-processing, even though we are now decades into the technology’s existence. And it’s not just that these parts need finishing in both the removal of support material and finishing of rough surfaces. It’s that tedious manual labor and old school traditional manufacturing techniques that have been used as the band-aid will never enable an additive manufacturing operation to scale. Neither produces high quality, consistent, repeatable end parts.

So as industry standards will use the control of digital data to qualify 3D printers and processes, why shouldn’t this standard also apply post-processing?

It absolutely should. And it’s absolutely possible with PostProcess’s software-driven solution because we have digitized the post-print step. Our hands-free, automated systems take the guesswork out of post-printing with algorithms developed from benchmarking thousands of parts. With AUTOMAT3D’s built-in finishing programs as well as the ability to create and store new programs, it’s as simple as pressing play to get the same end part every time.

As the article states, “by ensuring additive manufacturing steps are fixed and repeatable, customers can be more assured of part quality.” Amen.

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