The Leap from Prototyping to Production: Additive Polymers Versus Injection Molding

Injection Molded 3D PrintingIf you were to ask those involved in product manufacturing who utilize additive polymers for prototyping, they would tell you the leap to additive for production usage is a big one. Perceptions around accuracy, repeatability, poor quality and labor-intensive post-printing make 3D printing a difficult consideration for production scale. This perception has been formed not because 3D printing technologies are actually inferior, but because part design needs industrial standards in place. This encompasses file processing all the way to post-processing methods that are required to improve material integrity and strength and remove porosity to achieve the highest quality end product.

Even after 100 years of advancements in traditional manufacturing technologies, all parts have some type of imperfection from their method. For instance, in the manufacturing of injection-molded parts, issues often arise in calculations of shrinkage, tool draft, needed gates, and post-processing to remove flashing and surface treatment.

Additive components are no different, with similar imperfections and issues that can result in unsuitable end-use parts. However, additive designs actually provide more versatility with geometries not possible with conventional tooling and the potential for on-demand manufacturing. As the use of 3D printing is accelerating in terms of companies’ increased spending, greater ROI, and utilization of 3D printing as a competitive advantage (“State of 3D Printing”, Sculpteo, 2017), the next step toward large-scale production adoption requires a reality check.

The correct part design, good file processing, and the development of automated post-printing are the realities that, when addressed, will enable 3D printed parts to achieve repeatable, injection-molded quality for end-use. And with these end-use results, 3D printing will deliver significant cost savings in tooling and logistics over traditional manufacturing.

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Looking at the Numbers…An ROI Study on the DECI Support Removal System vs. Current Post-Printing Method

Spray Support Removal ROI for 3D printingWe know that the best way to tell the story about how our technology drives increased throughput, reduces technician attendance time, and delivers value is with real, hard numbers.

So we put together this actual customer example from the healthcare industry to show how the PostProcess DECI automated support removal solution delivers ROI in a number of ways.

This calculation considers the current post-printing method with a manual water jet spray system and a cycle time of 30 minutes.

With the customer’s current print production of 400 parts per day, the PostProcess DECI automated spray solution offers incredible benefits in:

-increased parts per cycle from 20 to 51
-reduced technician time per cycle from 30 to 4 minutes

along with an overall reduction in cost and percentage of damaged parts.

The DECI system also offers benefits in performing support removal, rinsing, and drying in one large work envelope and is especially suited for FDM, SLA, and CLIP print technologies.

While each customer’s productivity savings will vary, many see a return on investment in a matter of weeks with PostProcess’ automated, intelligent solutions.

Check out the full suite of Support Removal systems here.

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The First in the World to Develop Software for Post-Printing

Screenshot of additive manufacturing magazine's eNewsletter with article and metal before and after part.Here at PostProcess, we are proud to be pioneering intelligent, software-driven post-printing for additive manufacturing. Part of our mission is to transform 3D printing with automation and PC-based controls. Check out this recent article with Additive Manufacturing Media that discusses the unique dual functionality of the Hybrid DECI Duo, performing both surface finishing and support removal in one compact footprint, and how our proprietary software is enabling a leap forward in post-print productivity.

Check out the article here.

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Mechanical Treatment to Achieve Transparency in SLA Components

3D printed SLA bottle held in front of 3D printerThere are exciting new developments in 3D printed SLA parts for transparency applications, such as bottles, car lenses, and other geometries. Previously, an SLA printed part would need to be cut in half for sanding, which would then require it to be bonded again. Now, these parts can be finished using an automated post-printing process that is completely hands-free with just two steps.

The first step smooths the part as if thoroughly sanded by hand, but with an automated machine solution and therefore without costly labor. The second step removes the imperfections in the material that tremendously reduce or eliminate light refraction which cause the cloudiness. The intelligent system facilitating this process is capable of running several parts of the same geometry at one time, saving thousands of dollars per month within just this application.

Eliminating the manual smoothing/sanding and chemical treatment for clarity during post-printing reduces the overall cycle time by days, therefore driving savings in labor cost and improving time to market. PostProcess Technologies’ series of Surface Finishing systems uses finely tuned frequencies/energy that are gentle enough for these types of components, with more powerful on-demand energy for the most robust parts or materials.

Learn more about our Surface Finish solutions.

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