Maximizing your Post-Processing: The ROI Case for Automation

3D post-processing ROIWhen people who are familiar with additive manufacturing talk about the post-processing step, they usually speak in terms of minimizing the time and labor associated with finishing their parts. Many companies who are new to 3D printing find out late in the game about the additional cost required when parts come off the printer – the industry’s “dirty little secret”. Here at PostProcess, we like to talk in more positive terms about the post-print step. Our mission to digitize post-printing is all about helping customers maximize the opportunity for their business in the post-processing stage with the remarkable ROI possible from our automated and intelligent solutions.

The best way to illustrate ROI is through real-world examples of customer use cases – in this instance, a consumer goods application of PolyJet utilizing our DEMI 800 Support Removal solution. This particular business has the intersecting burden of particularly tedious support removal on delicate parts and a high labor rate.

The PostProcess DEMI 800 is the perfect solution for this situation, as the system’s precision-controlled agitated flow effectively removes supports with a ‘sink-float’ process rotating parts throughout the chamber. This variable motion, combined with optimal energy delivery and chemistry filtration, results in fast and uniform support removal. With the motion of fluids controlled by our Agitation Algorithms within our AUTOMAT3D™ software, sensor data adjusts in real-time so that parts are not damaged and the removal of supports is consistent.

This customer’s ability to process 30 parts in a cycle, while achieving uniform removal of support material every time, made ditching their manual finishing process for an automated solution a no-brainer:

– decreased technician touch time per part 71% from 4 to 1.16 minutes
– reduced total cost per part 77% from $10.00 to $2.31

When we talk about ROI however, it’s more than just dollars and cents. The ability to utilize any one of our systems for multiple print technologies allows customers to streamline their operations. Automation delivers a level of quality and consistency that is simply not possible using manual processes or traditional manufacturing machines, including faster processing times with less or no breakage driving better throughput. Our customers are able to redirect their skilled labor to more valuable and engaging tasks. Additionally, a software-based approach on our production systems provide automated basic maintenance scheduling, which means technicians spend less time on maintenance and have less pressure to remember maintenance schedules. And ultimately, our automated, data-driven approach is necessary to enable additive manufacturing to scale.

Want to learn more about the DEMI 800?
– Learn about how software, hardware, and chemistry work together in this White Paper
– Read this recent blog post on the newest design features of the DEMI 800
– Watch this video on PolyJet Support Removal

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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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