Advancing Utilization of 3D Printed PolyJet Medical Models: A Realistic Look at Post-Printing Challenges

It is no secret in our industry that PolyJet support removal is considered by many to be an art rather than a science. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning support off of anatomical models. In this blog post, we’re going to discuss the three main challenges associated with traditional methods for support removal on anatomical parts, which is an increasingly popular application. These three challenges are high manual labor, breakage, and the cost associated with reprinting damaged parts.

Manual Labor

Most PolyJet users turn to manual removal of supports based on the assumption it’s their only option. In alternative applications, a waterjet can be used to speed up the process a bit. However, especially with anatomical models, water jetting significantly increases the risk of damage. Users are left to use picks, brushes, and other handheld tools to pick away at the support slowly. This is an extremely time-consuming process, as we hear stories of users spending over an hour on just one part. This loss of time makes the user less productive and prevents them from performing more value-added activities. The final issue with manual labor is breakage. Because of human error involved, many anatomical models get damaged during support removal.

Breakage

The challenge of breakage is so prevalent when it comes to anatomical models for two reasons; the materials used and the geometries printed. Often for anatomical applications, soft-durometer materials are utilized for a more realistic feel. These materials can have a low shear modulus, making them much easier to damage during handling, especially when picking or scraping off support. The second component attributing to these high breakage rates is how fragile the geometries typically are. Anatomical models are often comprised of thin walls, complex internal geometries, and fine-featured details. These features, combined with the delicate nature of the material itself, are what lead to parts breaking at a costly rate. This leads to the final challenge, costly reprinting of damaged parts.

Reprint Cost

Breaking an additively manufactured part creates a ripple effect when it comes to cost. Think of the time the user already spent attempting to performing support removal before the part broke. Think of the time it required to print the part the first time around. You are spending twice as much of your own time for each part that is damaged. That time spent costs money. And if you plan on any design iteration, your plan has just been set back. Additionally, you are spending twice as much on both build and support materials for each part you have to reprint. It is easy to see how quickly a high breakage rate slows down your process while wasting your time and money.

In order to scale the anatomical modeling industry, these issues must be resolved. If you are interested in learning about our software-driven technology approach to tackle these issues, contact us today. Or even better, stop by and see us at the largest dedicated additive manufacturing event in the world in just a few weeks at Formnext 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany, November 19-22, in Hall 12.1, Stand B40.

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Announcing the First-Ever Additive Post-Printing Survey Trends Report

PostProcess is excited to launch the first Annual Additive Post-Printing Survey: Trends 2019, conducted with support from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). Our aim is to deliver insightful data and perspective on this segment of the booming Additive Manufacturing market that has never been captured before.

As a pioneer of the automated 3D Post-Printing space, or Post-Processing as it is also known, it makes perfect sense for us also to pioneer analysis of this market segment – one that is poised to become increasingly critical to the scaling of the industry as printing moves in greater volumes to the factory floor. The early identification of the trends and challenges in Post-Printing is instrumental to continued innovations and advancements to support the overall market’s forecasted growth.

In the years to come, this annual survey will generate thought leadership with insightful year over year trends on the Post-Printing market. We thank all who participated this year for their time and insight.

DOWNLOAD THE RESULTS NOW

 

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The Building Blocks of SVC Technology

PostProcess FORTI™ using SVC Technology

Welcome to the final post of our four-part series breaking down PostProcess’ core technologies. Our goal has been to help you understand how our integrated approach of software, hardware, and chemistry delivers the most transformative 3D post-printing results in the industry. In this last piece, we explain the building blocks of our Submersed Vortex Cavitation (SVC) technology, utilized in our popular CENTI, FORTI, and DEMI support and resin removal solutions. The key components to SVC are our:

  • Proprietary detergents
  • Vortex pumping scheme
  • Variable ultrasonics
  • AUTOMAT3D™ software

Now let’s unpack the role each one of these components plays in our soluble support and resin removal solutions.

 

Proprietary Detergents:
A key contributor to the effectiveness of the SVC technology is our proprietary chemistry. The three primary detergents we currently offer for use in our SVC line were all developed by our PhD chemists specifically for additive materials, an approach unlike any other in the market. We provide a detergent specific for each of the main polymer-based print technologies – material extrusion (i.e., FDM), material jetting (i.e., PolyJet), vat polymerization (i.e., SLA). For each one of these technologies, PostProcess’ detergent will dissolve soluble support material or uncured resin without compromising the build material. The chemistry is optimized for the materials used by each technology, and then further optimized through multiple fine-tuned mechanical energy sources which we will cover in the next section. The parts processed while submerged in our detergent covers the Submersed portion of SVC technology.

 

Vortex pumping scheme:
Our SVC solutions utilize a strategic pumping scheme that creates a proprietary rotating motion of the part while submerged in the detergent. Here at PostProcess, we like to say this motion ensures that “parts that float sink, parts that sink float.” What that really means is that regardless of density or geometry and how that affects a parts buoyancy, the Vortex component of SVC technology will ensure that the part is uniformly exposed to the detergent and cavitation from the ultrasonics.

 

Variable Ultrasonics:
SVC TechnologyTo optimize the chemistry, PostProcess uses ultrasonic generated cavitation as another form of mechanical energy. The ultrasonics emit soundwaves at varying frequency and amplitude creating waves of compression and expansion in the detergent. This agitation of the liquid causes microscopic bubbles, cavitation, to form on the surface of the part. These bubbles agitate the support material as it is weakened by the chemistry, accelerating the processing time. What sets us apart from other machines in the industry? It’s the level of control we have from our AUTOMAT3D software and the fact that our ultrasonics are mounted on the side of the machine as opposed to the bottom. In a conventional system, the support material breaks down and settles on the bottom of the machine. This settled material would then impact the effectiveness of the wave emitted from the transducer. PostProcess’s SVC machines have mitigated this issue by mounting them on the side of the machine, ensuring maximum efficacy throughout the cycle.

 

AUTOMAT3D Software:
At this point, we have covered the hardware and chemistry portion of PostProcess’ SVC technology. However, being that we pride ourselves on being a comprehensive solution provider, there is one last vital piece to the puzzle, and that is our AUTOMAT3D software. What is essential to all of our technologies is the acute control of the system’s energy sources. AUTOMAT3D acts as the conductor of the whole process, configuring all of the energy output sources in response to sensor input data. The software manages temperature, ultrasonics output, and pump flow, all in concert with cycle time. Not only does the software provide the solution with the highest degree of energy management but also simplifies machine operation for the user. With recipe storage, process parameters can easily be saved for easy recall, requiring minimal operator time and promoting consistency with each cycle. Lastly, preventative maintenance and warnings allow users to plan for maintenance, further minimizing any downtime.

Now that you have a better understanding of our Submersed Vortex Cavitation technology,  is right for your application? Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and get the benchmark process started.

 

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The Building Blocks of SRF Technology

PostProcess RADOR™ using SRF Technology

Welcome to the third in our series of four blog posts highlighting each of PostProcess’ proprietary technology approaches. Here, we will take a deep dive into Suspended Rotational Force (SRF), utilized in our Surface Finish family of solutions.

The building blocks that drive the performance of our SRF technology are the following:

  • Our proprietary detergent
  • Our proprietary abrasive media
  • Our AUTOMAT3D™ software

Now let’s dig into what’s so special about each one of these components:

Proprietary Detergent:
First off, I want you to understand that we are not leveraging any chemical energy in this technology. This detergent was explicitly designed by our chemists to optimize the mechanical, abrasive energy that is provided by the media. The detergent ensures the additive manufactured part being processed can circulate through the media as well as wash away any broken down media or part material that accumulates during processing. When you’re thinking SRF detergent, you’re thinking media optimization. By optimizing the media, we are ensuring consistency throughout the batch. Using one detergent that is safe for all materials gives you the freedom to process a variety of materials in one batch.

 

Proprietary Abrasive Media:
SRF TechnologyNow onto the real work-horse of our SRF technology – media. Our development engineers performed extensive testing on a variety of different materials, shapes, and sizes of abrasive media to determine the most effective combination specific to additive manufactured materials. Depending on your application, our engineers will help you choose the right media based on your finishing requirements. With the range of offerings we provide, you can address multiple materials in one batch for a more one-size-fits-all approach. Alternatively, we can choose a specific material, density, shape, and size tailored to your part material and geometry.

Now that you know the role of the detergent and media, you now understand the Suspended aspect of SRF. With the 3D printed part suspended in the media/detergent mixture, these two components alone have provided you with the most advanced and additive-specific abrasive technology. But in real PostProcess nature, we take it to another level and give it a brain.

 

AUTOMAT3D Software:
By introducing software, we are providing our customers with an unprecedented level of process insight and control. In our SRF technology, our AUTOMAT3D software is controlling the friction force that a part is experiencing to provide process flexibility. The software comes pre-loaded with four different customizable agitation settings. These settings allow you to alter your process specific to how much friction force is applied to each batch of parts to adjust to different materials and geometries effortlessly. Additionally, AUTOMAT3D keeps you in the loop with what is happening with your machine with process monitoring. By keeping you up to date with tank levels and respective smart cycle times, we allow you to plan ahead for maintenance and minimize downtime.

With a better understanding of the software, you now know the Force aspect in SRF. Where does Rotational fit? That part is simple. When the motor in our machines kick on, a vibratory motion is initiated, moving whatever media/part mixture is sitting within the part envelope in a circular motion along the Y (vertical) axis. While the parts are suspended, the media/detergent mixture will rotate as a result of the circulating motion. This motion will ensure uniform exposure of the part to the media/detergent mixture and provide the consistent results that we promise. This summarizes the Rotational component of our SRF technology.

 

Suspended Rotational Force should make a lot more sense now, but how can you know if it is right for your application? Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and get the benchmark process started.

 

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The Building Blocks of TAF Technology

PostProcess DECI Duo™ using TAF Technology

Welcome to part two of the four-part series highlighting each of PostProcess’ core 3D post-printing technologies. In part one, we discussed our VVD technology, ideal for automated support removal on technologies such as SLA, PolyJet, and FDM. In this post, we’ll explore the building blocks of our Thermal Atomized Fusillade (TAF) technology, utilized in our one-of-a-kind Hybrid DECI Duo. TAF technology performs multiple automated processes, including excess powder removal and surface finishing, allowing for fast cycle times and consistently finished end parts. The key components to TAF are:

  • Proprietary detergents
  • Suspended solids
  • Fusillade jets
  • AUTOMAT3D™ software

Let’s dive into the role each one of these elements plays in the engineering of TAF technology.

 

Proprietary Detergents:

The detergent utilized in the DECI Duo is designed specifically by our chemists to optimize the mechanical and abrasive energy that is provided by the suspended solids. So another way to think of it is suspended solid optimization. The detergent helps the suspended solid circulation through the machine and enhances the solution’s capability to finish internal channels while reducing safety hazards associated with dry blast processes. We offer a primary detergent that is effective across a breadth of print technologies offering the freedom to process a variety of materials without swapping detergents.  Additionally, we continuously perform research to optimize each application; our most recent findings on Inconel 718 are available in this recently released white paper.

 

Suspended Solids:

A suspended solid is a fine particle, either metal or ceramic, that mixes with a detergent to create distinct abrading solutions to improve various surface properties. Our development engineers performed extensive testing on different materials, shapes, and sizes of suspended solids to determine the most effective combination specific to additive manufactured materials. Application dependent, our engineers will help choose the right suspended solids based on the user’s geometry and profile requirements. Together, our suspended solids and proprietary detergents provide the “Atomized” component of our TAF technology. This atomized approach offers flexible and consistent powder removal and surface finishing across a wide range of geometries.

 

Fusillade Jets:

VVD TechnologyWith our TAF technology, each jet emits compressed air, detergent, and suspended solids at variable software regulated pressures. The two “Fusillade” jets fire either simultaneously or in rapid succession, depending on the Agitation Algorithm setting within the software. The wide range of pressures, typically from 20 psi to 130 psi (138kPa – 896kPa), provides the level of flexibility needed to process materials across all technologies for a variety of finishing requirements. TAF technology uniformly processes a variety of geometries by having two software-controlled jets on single axes spraying the parts fixed on a rotating turntable. One jet is on the top of the machine moving front to back and the other moves up and down. This video animation helps demonstrate the process further.

 

AUTOMAT3D Software:

Our AUTOMAT3D software acts as the conductor of the whole process, configuring all of the energy output sources in response to sensor input data. AUTOMAT3D is integral in our TAF technology due to the intricacy of coordinating all of the numerous software-enabled energy sources. The software manages temperature, jet movement, turntable speed and direction, fluid and air pressure, all in concert with cycle time. This control over the temperature is the “Thermal” piece of TAF technology. AUTOMAT3D provides the solution with the highest degree of energy management while simultaneously simplifying machine operation. Recipe storage allows for process parameters to be saved for easy recall, requiring minimal operator time and promoting consistency with each cycle. To further minimize downtime, preventative maintenance and warnings allow users to plan ahead of time for maintenance.

 

Now that you have a better understanding of how our Thermal Atomized Fusillade technology works for powder removal and surface finishing, find out if it is right for your application!  Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and get the benchmark process started.

 

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