Insights from an Additive Veteran: 5 Questions with an Expert

5 Questions with an Expert title card with Stephanie Barberree photo.As one of the trendiest sectors of manufacturing, 3D printing has made some major strides over the last couple of decades, especially when it comes to enabling Industry 4.0. However, a fully digitized additive workflow cannot be achieved without one key component – an automated post-printing solution. To gain some perspective on the past, present, and future of additive, as well as the value of automated post-printing, we sat down with our West Coast Territory Business Development Manager Stephanie Barberree, who has been in the additive industry virtually her entire career.

You’ve worked across a variety of different realms within the additive manufacturing industry. Could you tell us a little bit about your background in additive, and touch on the biggest ways you’ve seen the industry develop over the years?

I began my career in additive manufacturing at a service bureau based in Southern California and stayed there for a number of years. Eventually, I followed one of my coworkers who left the company to begin his own service bureau, where I worked even after it was sold to a large print manufacturer. Once that acquisition happened, I leapt to printer sales before eventually joining the PostProcess team. I came into this company with experience in parts and in selling printers themselves, and now I’m on the post-processing side of things.

As an additive manufacturing veteran who is now an employee of PostProcess Technologies, we can assume you saw clear value in automating post-printing. Can you speak to this a bit more?

When I was at a service bureau, I’d witness technicians spending hours upon hours cleaning parts, such as with SLA (Stereolithography). It was very messy, very time consuming and extremely expensive for the company since we were shipping parts out on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there weren’t really any alternatives available back then like what PostProcess offers today.

On the other hand, when I was selling printers, I saw so many of my customers struggle with post-process bottlenecks – one of the main issues that PostProcess works to alleviate. These bottlenecks could really negatively impact engineers’ workflows and general productivity. No matter how fast they moved, it seemed that parts would just pile up waiting to be cleaned. Breakage was also a big issue, as every broken part requires the printing cycle to be restarted once again. Since PostProcess’s technology is designed specifically for additive parts and offers intuitive software settings, they add a lot of value when it comes to breakage mitigation.

Can you give me an example of a situation in which you saw software-based post-printing solutions really revolutionized or dramatically improved an additive workflow?

Service bureaus are probably the place where I’ve seen our solutions make the most tremendous impact. By freeing up manual labor and thereby allowing technicians to spend time on more valuable tasks, our support removal and surface finishing solutions effectively help to streamline and automate workflows.

I’d say that another major benefit to our solutions is that they are able to work with a variety of materials, making them ideal for large labs that utilize 5 or 6 different types of additive solutions. Generally, our automated post-printing technology enables service bureaus and manufacturers alike to boost throughput and significantly reduce lead times.

In what areas do you see additive manufacturing making the most impact over the next 10-20 years? How does post-printing play a role?

As the benefits of additive manufacturing become increasingly clear, I’ve noticed a movement away from traditional subtractive manufacturing, and a larger push towards additive.

The field where I’m seeing additive make the most significant impact would have to be medical. By utilizing additive, medical companies don’t have to deal with the frustrating lead times (often 8-10 weeks’ worth) that come along with thermoforming or injection molding. Additive, when equipped with automated post-processing, simply allows products to get to market so much faster than any traditional manufacturing technologies. Speed and quick implementation of product improvement is everything when you’re dealing with the medical industry, and at the end of the day, saving lives. The improved production speed that automated post-printing enables is essential here.

Taking all of your experience into account, what advice do you have for a company just starting out in additive?

My number one piece of advice is simply to do your homework. There are so many different types of products on the market, and you need to ensure that you choose the one that will fit best into your workflow. Don’t rely on what someone else tells you – sample an array of different technologies and materials. Also, set clear expectations upfront on what you expect your 3D printer to do in order to avoid surprises.


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Inside Chemistry for Resin Removal: 5 Questions with an Expert

5 Questions with an Expert Title Card with Nicholas Cultrara photoWorking in tandem with our proprietary hardware and software, our unique chemistry formulations play a critical role in all of our automated post-printing solutions. We recently sat down with our in-house PhD chemist to talk through our newest chemistry solution for resin removal for SLA, DLP, and CLIP print technologies.

Could you begin by giving us an overview of the challenges in the 3D printing resin removal from the chemistry perspective?

The thing that makes resin removal so tricky is that you are dealing with especially fine chemical differences between the build material itself, and the actual resin that needs to be removed. To successfully clean a part, you need to find the best solution to target the non-polymerized oligomers of the resin, but not the polymer itself.

Why does chemistry specifically play such a critical role in the process of removing resins from 3D printed parts (perhaps even more so than support removal)?

Support removal, while it does typically utilize chemistry, is a lot more reliant on ultrasonics and pressure to physically remove support materials. That’s probably the largest difference between cleaning resin parts and removing soluble support materials. Take SLA post-printing for example. Because it is a single vat printing technology, both the structure and build are made out of the same material. For this reason, effective chemistry is crucial, as resin must be pulled from the surface of both the build, as well as any supporting structures. To avoid the need for constant washing, chemistry for resin removal submersion must be extremely effective on its own. That’s what we set out to create at PostProcess.

What were the goals that PostProcess had in mind when formulating a novel chemistry solution for the resin removal process?

Our main goal has always been to create user-friendly resin removal chemistry that works longer and faster than comparable options on the market. I’m proud to say that we’ve achieved some really significant improvements in efficiencies compared to isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and tripropylene glycol methyl ether (TPM), the two main alternatives for resin removal.

In addition to being more effective, we’ve also managed to make the PostProcess solution a lot less hazardous, and less flammable, than IPA. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about – enabling a safer work environment for the individuals working around these materials.

How do the benefits of PostProcess’ resin removal chemistry, in combination with its software and hardware system, enable a more streamlined additive workflow?

Gif showing how many parts can be cleaned per gallon. PostProcess's Detergent: 1150 parts. TPM: 650 parts. IPA: 250 parts.Every part of this automated process was designed to work together – the entire streamlined system means you can avoid compatibility issues that you might have with a 3rd party detergent or machine. We’ve developed smart hardware with software-enabled safeguards, which means they’ll shut themselves down before they even reach the point of potential flammability hazards. Because PostProcess is the only solution on the market implementing all three pillars of software, hardware, and chemistry together, our solutions have shown really impressive results that are pretty incomparable to competitors.

Actually, our recent white paper found that our solutions removed 4.2x more resin than IPA, and 1.8x more resin than TPM, all in notably faster cycle times. As a general rule of thumb, the less time that a finished part spends submerged, the better, as this lowers the risk of surface chemistry effects.

Because of the hydrophilic nature of resins, it’s also common to see swelling in finished parts during submersion as they absorb water. Unlike most IPA solutions, the PostProcess detergent does not contain any water, so we don’t see a lot of the swelling that occurs with the use of other chemistries. That’s definitely been a benefit that we’ve noticed as well.

Chemicals used in post-printing can be notoriously harsh in regard to health, safety, and environmental considerations. How does PostProcess’ resin removal chemistry enable a safer working environment?

As I mentioned before, the safety improvements and minimization of waste handling that our resin removal solution enables is really our crowning achievement. Resins used in additive manufacturing tend to be very toxic. This can make for a very hazardous workplace and means that liquid waste needs to be sent out for proper disposal. Not only is the disposal process costly, but unloading and reloading machines creates a lot of downtime, and is one of the most notorious times for chemical spills to happen. Thanks to its ability to be distilled, our detergent can vastly extend the lifetime of an individual unit of chemistry, therefore minimizing overall waste, downtime, disposal costs, and spillage risk.

Lastly, if you’ve ever been in a room with an IPA dip tank, you can testify that it’s intense. The vapors are strong, and while it may not be outright toxic, it’s uncomfortable and irritating at the very least. We engineered our resin removal solution to be much less obtrusive on the system, and more enjoyable to work around.


You can learn more about our solutions for resin removal here or by emailing us at Also, you can see our resin removal solutions during live tours guided by an engineering expert every week during June – reserve your spot here.

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Automating Surface Finishing and Powder Removal for Dental Applications

3D model of white teeth on black background.As additive manufacturing (AM) for the dental industry is predicted to scale into a $9 billion dollar market within just the next eight years, it is becoming increasingly imperative for those in the dental AM sector to eliminate bottlenecks from their additive workflows. While 3D printing has a myriad of benefits for industries like consumer products, automotive, and aerospace, AM’s ability to rapidly adapt to manufacturing custom designs with optimal accuracy gives it a special leg up when it comes to printing medical and dental applications.

Because dental and orthodontic appliances are manufactured on a case-by-case basis, no two designs are the same. While antiquated subtractive manufacturing methods are strategic for the high-volume production of a single design, these techniques, like milling for example, are not especially conducive to the variability in design common within dental applications.

Not only are products like dental aligners, retainers, dentures, custom implants, crowns, and similar products unique as they are retrofitted to an individual’s mouth, but even when these parts are created via AM, the many intricate crevices that make up each piece can be troublesome to surface finish and, if printed with powder, remove excess powder from. When these processes are not done completely and accurately, both comfort and function for the patient are sacrificed. As a result, It is imperative that dental aligners and similar custom products have a completely smooth exterior, which is only achievable through surface finishing.

While the implementation of AM for dental/orthodontic appliance development can unlock significant time and cost savings compared to subtractive manufacturing techniques, it’s not uncommon for bottlenecks to obstruct efficiencies and cause issues within the post-printing step of additive workflows. Without an automated post-printing solution, technicians may waste a significant amount of time manually surface finishing parts, while still not achieving the ideal roughness averages. Implementing manual labor in this process reduces efficiencies, and can even slow down lead times.

Even as a 10+ year veteran of additive manufacturing implementation, Great Lakes Dental, one of the nation’s largest orthodontic labs, was facing many of these challenges in their post-print stage. As PolyJet, DLP, and SLS 3D printing users, Great Lakes Dental sought not one, but two efficient post-printing techniques specifically for their SLS print technology workflow – powder removal and surface finishing. Our latest case study delves into the ways that PostProcess Technologies™ RADOR™ surface finishing solution was able to mitigate the post-printing challenges that Great Lakes Dental faced while streamlining their additive workflow, and reducing manual labor and cycle times.

To unlock these efficiencies for Great Lakes Dental, the RADOR utilizes:

  • A proprietary blend of software intelligence, hardware, and advanced vibratory technology to dually remove powder from and burnish printed parts.
  • PostProcess’s Suspended Rotational Force (SRF) technology to ensure parts receive equal exposure to finishing hardware.
  • Media specifically chosen to meet the needs of print materials, product shapes, and finishing requirements of Great Lakes Dental.

Read through our Case Study with Great Lakes Dental to learn more about how our proprietary automated post-printing solution can unlock efficiencies for the ever-growing dental industry.


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