Disrupting Traditional FDM Support Removal to Enable Scalable Additive Manufacturing

White Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printed Part.If you’ve been in the 3D printing industry for any significant amount of time, you’re probably aware of the market dominance that polymers have established in the realm of 3D printing materials. The popularity of this material only appears to have increased in recent years, as the 2019 Wohler’s Report* cites that over 77% of service providers deliver polymer parts. Compared to statistics from the previous year, this actually indicates a recent increase in polymer part-building services.

Much like the way that polymers serve as the industry standard material for 3D printing, fused deposition modeling (FDM™) acts as the “poster child” for 3D printers. In other words, if you brought up 3D printing to the average person, an FDM printer is what would likely come to their mind. What makes FDM printing so popular is that it is not only cost-effective but extremely versatile in its applications. Individuals enthusiastic about 3D printing for sport can easily acquire an FDM printer for personal projects, while the printer type also supports large-scale manufacturing facilities.

From automotive production to tooling, those in the manufacturing field value FDM for its ability to rapidly prototype, and to test the fit, form, and function of parts. While FDM excels in cost-effectiveness for design and printing (the first two steps of the integrative 3-step additive workflow) it’s all too common for bottlenecks to arise during the final step; post-printing. Without the use of automated post-printing technology, most support removal is left up to tedious industry-accepted methods like submersion tanks, which have notoriously long cycle times (4 or more hours is typical). This often results in the need for overnight processing, making it a challenge for servicers to deliver end-use parts in a timely manner.

Traditional support removal methods also run a high risk of producing inconsistent results, especially after evaporation has occurred. Because temperature control is often limited, and human error can cause issues when determining chemistry ratios, post-printing by means of a submersion tank often leads to varied results, creating the need for excessive maintenance activity on parts.

If your operation has used submersion tanks for post-printing, you’ve probably dealt with the inefficiencies that arise when additional support removal is required. Not only does manual post-printing waste valuable technician time, but it further slows down this already sluggish third step of the additive workflow. This technician time devoted to post-processing could be otherwise spent working on more significant projects.

Our latest white paper discusses a revolutionary software-driven method that utilizes Volumetric Velocity Dispersion (VVD) technology to streamline the FDM workflow. In the paper, we discuss how this solution uses configurable agitation and concentrated flex nozzles to dissolve support material quickly, ensuring constant support removal action.

By combining unique mechanical and chemical rates of removal with software intelligence, we’ve created an entirely unique and efficient opportunity for FDM users. With this technology, users can benefit from some of the fastest cycle times in the industry, consistent results, and higher throughputs. We’re pleased to present 3D printing users with an opportunity to cut down on costs while wasting less time, and fewer resources.

Specifically, this paper discusses the benefits of streamlining your workflow with VVD technology, and speaks to:

  • This automated solution’s significant (73%) decrease in cycle time compared to the common submersion tank solution.
  • The ability to process very complex parts featuring multiple internal channels filled with support material at comparable rates to basic parts.
  • Alleviating the post-print bottleneck and expediting iterative designs to ramp up production volumes with this software-controlled approach.

Download this resource to learn about the software-driven automation, unique VVD technology, and patent-pending chemicals that make this automated technology so impactful to the FDM additive workflow.

-> Want to learn more? Contact Us

-> Return to Blog Homepage


*Wohlers, Terry, Robert Ian Campbell, Ray Huff, Olaf Diegel, and Joseph Kowen. Wohlers Report 2019 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing State of the Industry. Fort Collins, CO: Wohlers Associates, 2019.

How to Eliminate Manual Surface Finishing For Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D Printed Parts

metal MJF printed part in a triangular shape with steps.It’s no surprise that the additive manufacturing (AM) industry is continuing to expand at a rapid pace. In fact, it’s projected that 3D printing will grow to a whopping $49.1 billion industry by 2025. Particularly, MJF 3D printing technology is being utilized more and more as a means of developing complex functional parts with low unit pricing. If you’re considering 3D printing options, keep in mind that powder-based MJF print technology has a significant number of advantages over other 3D printing methods.

For example, MJF allows for faster overall cycle times and is capable of notably broader design flexibility compared to other popular 3D printing techniques like FDM or the powder-based SLS. As far as sustainability and eco-friendliness are concerned, MJF printing is a vetted sustainable option, as it allows a high percentage of the powdered material it employs to be recycled. This longer material purchasing cycle not only helps to reduce costs, but makes the MJF a sustainable choice for both your budget and the environment.

That being said, there is an aspect of the MJF printing process that is less than ideal – its surface finishing options. These current techniques hold the ability to cause a variety of issues in the additive workflow, as most require a significant amount of tedious manual labor. These processes tend to involve arcane tools like sandpaper, sanding blocks, or even small dremel tools. Plus, as anyone who has had to hire technical workers knows; manual labor can be quite costly, and at times, hard to come by.

If your business decides not to hire technicians to execute surface finishing, there is a good chance that instead, engineers will be spending precious working hours sanding away at printed parts. This engineering time devoted to post-processing could be otherwise spent working on more significant projects. These various inefficiencies tend to culminate as post-print bottlenecks, preventing production volumes from being achieved, and disrupting streamlined workflows.

Alternatively, traditional vibratory surface finishing systems are also frequently used to post-process MJF printed parts. The issue with this approach is that it lacks significant control as a subtractive manufacturing process. Vibratory systems run a high risk of damage, or at the very least, wearing down the intricate geometry of the parts. This technique has a tendency of resulting in wide inconsistencies and breakage. Our most recent white paper discusses a new, automated approach that mitigates these challenges with a software-driven solution designed specifically for additive manufacturing.

This paper covers:

  • The benefits of a novel automated post-printing method for surface finishing.
  • Opportunities to achieve surface finish values of less than 2-microns across a variety of MJF printer platforms.
  • Key considerations like part density and hardness.
  • Manufacturing factors including the impact of print technology and print orientation on the surface profile.

This aforementioned surface finishing technology prevents bottlenecks, frees up labor costs, and provides rapid, consistent results that preserve complex details.

Read through our white paper to learn about the software-driven automation, suspended rotational force, and patent-pending chemicals that make this automated technology so revolutionary to the MJF surface finishing process.

-> Want to learn more? Contact Us

-> Return to Blog Homepage

Site Map | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | © 2024 PostProcess Technologies. All Rights Reserved | 2495 Main Street, Suite 615, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA | Phone: 1.866.430.5354 | info@postprocess.com