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

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.

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FDM 3D Printing for Automotive Applications: Are you losing the race with archaic support removal?

As Automotive continues to be one of Additive Manufacturing’s top growth markets in both the number of applications and volume of printed parts, the importance of increased productivity, consistency, and quality is also ramping. Automotive applications are heavily weighted towards the use of FDM in rapid prototyping to help cut timelines and allow companies to iterate more effectively. But with this advancement of significantly improved design and build processes, the post-processing step is often overlooked as an opportunity to further optimize overall production times.

To date, many companies printing for Automotive applications have leaned on subtractive equipment from their factory floor and tried to adapt them for Additive, including hand tools, submersible tanks, and traditional tumblers. While this can work in some cases, as volumes ramp issues are arising. Even with assistance from these machines, there is a high component of labor, or what we call attended technician time. It is not uncommon for the attended technician time to last the entire cycle with a tumbler or submersible tank due to the frequent monitoring of the systems that are required.

Even with the best technicians, there can be inconsistent results. Variations in the level of precision and issues of rework are common. With traditional machines not optimized for Additive Manufactured parts, breakage levels can also be especially problematic. As print materials and labor are expensive, re-printing could be significantly affecting the ROI of your Additive operation overall.

Consider how automating the FDM support removal step of post-processing, such as with the PostProcess BASE™, can address these common issues in terms of productivity, consistency, quality, and of course, overall cycle time:

  • Improves overall cycle times to enable rapid prototyping with over twice as many prototypes able to be produced every week
  • Reduces processing time by over 50% and drying time by over 60%when compared to submersible tank systems.
  • Minimizes part warpage and breakage without changes to dimensional accuracy due to lower temperatures and less liquid exposure. These challenges are almost inevitable in a submersible tank.
  • Reduces attended technician time up to 90% from traditional solutions due to the system’s AUTOMAT3D™ software.

Maintaining a competitive edge will continue to propel prototype volumes in Automotive and other markets from thousands per year to hundreds of thousands per year, particularly in companies that rely on fast innovation to drive growth. Here at PostProcess, our mission is to help the industry move beyond brute-forcing post-printing with manual labor and traditional mechanical solutions towards software-based automated solutions to ensure throughput and consistency in line with the market’s expectations.

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PostProcess is Changing the Game: Our Year in Review 2019

2019 was an exciting year for Additive Manufacturing…a impressive array of announcements and collaborations, record-breaking trade show and conference attendance, and a myriad of exciting applications of 3D printing technology.

Here at PostProcess, we also have some pretty exciting accomplishments and milestones to celebrate. Let’s take a look back at our biggest stories and publications from 2019 as we continue our journey to unleash the transformative power of additive manufacturing with the world’s only data-driven post-printing solution.

  • November – PostProcess Announces $20M Series B Round and European Strategy Expansion. We shared the news of our Series B funding, led by Grand Oaks Capital, the appointment of new EU Channel Partners, and EU facility expansion supported by a grant from regional authorities. Read more here.
  • September Annual Additive Post-Printing Survey: Trends Report 2019. PostProcess launched the first-of-its-kind annual survey report on Additive Manufacturing Post-Printing! We collaborated with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) to query end users on the state of post-processing, a critical but often under-reported final step of 3D printing. Read more here
  • SeptemberToro Selects PostProcess to Implement Automated 3D Post-Printing. In an effort to reduce operator labor, The Toro Company implemented automated post-printing into its additive manufacturing workflow with the BASE support removal solution for their 3D printed FDM parts. Read more here.
  • June – Considerations for Surface Finishing of 3D Printed Inconel 718. 3D printing with metal was one of the hottest topics of the year. We tackled challenge of surface finishing additively manufactured metals and alloys, with focus on the widely-used nickel super-alloy Inconel 718 printed with DMLS technology, in this white paper. Read more here.
  • March – PostProcess Announces Fastest Processing Times in the Industry with new Resin Removal Solution. Our groundbreaking new solution for SLA, CLIP, and DLP resin removal provides dramatically improved processing times of 5-10 minutes, lower operator attendance time with reduced environmental hazards, preservation of fine feature details, and overall improved resin removal from SLA printed parts. Read more here.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with all of the exciting announcements that are yet to come in 2020!

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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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