Post processing is the final stage of a part additive manufacturing process.
Additive Manufacturing Post Processing is one of the vital steps in AM process.
Inovatec machinery offers various solutions for the post processing of additive manufacturing parts.
In this guide, we will go through the whole process of post processing AM parts and its advantages.
1. Additive Manufacturing Parts Creation Explained
Additive manufacturing is popularly known as 3d printing.
It makes use of computer aided design programs to create a 3d model of the parts.
Once the design is completed, then the files are sent to 3d printing machines for part creation.
Here, the part is created by adding the materials.
So, the machine will pour melted material to each of the previous layers during the process.
In other methods, the part is created by removing materials through various techniques.
So, the additive manufacturing process allows you to create parts of any complexity with less material wastage.
You can use AM to create functional prototypes, molds, mold inserts, and mass production parts.
You will be using a metal powder for additive manufacturing of a metal part.
The two most commonly used materials for AM parts are metals and plastic.
Some AM parts are also made of ceramic material.
Now, you know, how a part is created using the additive manufacturing process.
2. Importance of Post Processing Additive Manufacturing Parts
Let us have a look at the advantages of post processing additive manufacturing parts.
2.1 For Substrate Removal
The manufactured 3d part comes along with a substrate.
So, you need to remove it to get the final part.
It is done in the post processing stage.
2.2 For Cleaning Parts
Proper cleaning is essential for an AM part to remove unnecessary powder deposits.
2.3 For Surface Smoothening
Unlike other manufacturing processes, the additive manufacturing process will make the part surface very rough.
So, you need to remove these unnecessary rough areas from the part and smoothen it.
You can do it during the post processing stage.
2.4 For Burr Removal
You should ensure that there are no burrs in the final AM part.
So, deburring of the part is essential.
2.5 To Get the Desired Finish
Some AM parts will need glossy finish whereas others may require a matte finish.
Post processing AM parts allows you to give the desired level of finish to the part according to the requirement.
2.6 Remove Rust and Oxidised Layers
There is a chance of oxide layer formation or rusting of 3d printed metal parts.
You can remove this layer of oxide in post processing.
2.7 To Prepare Surface for Coating
Surface preparation is essential to coat the 3d printed part with paint or powder
The surface should not have any imperfections.
Otherwise, the coating effectiveness will be lost.
2.8 To Increase Lifespan
An AM component will have lots of weak spots.
So, you need to post-process the part before using it.
It helps to remove the weak spots, thereby increasing the life span of the part.
2.9 For Safe Use of the Part
Unwanted sharp edges and corners in an AM part can risk the safety of the user.
So, you need to remove such areas through the finishing process.
2.10 For Polishing
The final AM part must have a good look and appearance.
So, you need to do proper polishing in the last step of the post processing stage.
3. Benefits of Using Machines for Post Processing AM Parts
Let us have a look at the various advantages of using Inovatec machines for post processing additive manufacturing parts.
3.1 Reduce Processing Time
A machine based solution helps to bring down the overall processing time.
You can process multiple parts together or in batches.
3.2 Cost Saving Solution
You need to make a onetime investment on the appropriate Inovatec machine for post processing of AM parts.
You can select a tumbling media which has more lifespan.
Thus, you can make the entire process cost effective in the long run.
You don’t have to invest in specialised tools or training, for maintenance of Inovatec machines.
Anyone can easily do the maintenance work with the help of a standard maintenance kit.
3.3 Time Saving
Manual post processing of AM parts is a tedious process.
So, it will consume a lot of time.
A labourer can process only one part at a time.
But, a machine can process many parts together at the same time.
So, it helps to save time.
3.4 For Consistent Finish Across all Parts
Part consistency is essential in any business.
It is tough to achieve the same level of consistency to all parts through the manual method.
An Inovatec machine can help your business to achieve the same finish consistency across all your parts.
3.5 Damage free Parts
Manual post processing of additive manufacturing can damage some of the parts.
So, you will have to compromise the yield factor.
There will be zero damages if you use a machine instead of the manual process.
You need to make sure that you select the right type of tumbling media for different parts.
3.6 Batch Processing and Continuous Processing Capability
Inovatec machines come with batch processing and continuous processing facility.
So, the machines can handle different types of parts at a time using the batch feature.
3.7 For Durable and Reliable Parts
All the AM parts that you manufacture should be reliable and durable.
Otherwise, the customers will start rejecting your parts.
Manual post processing of AM parts is prone to damages.
You can get more reliable and durable parts with the help of a machine based finishing.
3.8 For Better Coating of the Parts
If you want to coat the AM parts, then surface preparation is essential.
If you don’t use a machine, then surface finish may vary across parts.
So, the coating will not be uniform across all your parts.
So, use a machine for consistent surface preparation for coating.
4. Different Steps in Post Processing of Additive Manufacturing Parts
Let us see the different steps in a typical post processing of additive manufacturing parts.
It will help you to understand the whole process in a better way.
An additive manufactured part will have lots of raised portion on its surface.
So, you need to remove these burrs during the deburring process.
4.2 Edge Rounding
The part may have unnecessary sharp edges formed due to the 3d printing process.
Such edges can harm the user.
You can remove such a hazardous area by edge rounding process.
This process doesn’t alter the shape of the edge.
3d printed parts will have a rough surface with lots of marks.
So, proper cleaning is required to remove all these marks.
4.4 Surface Finishing &Polishing
Different AM parts demand different surface textures.
So, you need to do the surface finishing process to get the required texture.
Proper polishing is also needed to get the desired level of finish to the surface.
Polishing smoothens the part surface.
5. Automation of Mass Post Processing of AM Parts
Automating the mass post processing of additive manufacturing parts allows you to operate the entire process with minimal human intervention.
Thus, you can save on the labor charges.
It also helps to lower your overall processing time.
You need to make a onetime investment on the different automation options from Inovatec.
6. Different Mass Finishing Machines for Post Processing Additive Manufacturing parts
Inovatec machinery offers various types of machines for the post processing of additive manufacturing parts.
Vibratory finishing machine works on the vibratory action on AM parts for cleaning and polishing.
It is one of the popular cost effective solution for post processing of additive manufacturing parts.
Inovatec offers many types of vibratory finishing machines that come with variable frequency and amplitude controls.
Vibratory Finishing Machine is the most popular machine for 3d printed parts surface finishing.
Its gentle movement protects parts from cracking and hitting. It not only suitable for ceramic 3d printed parts, but also for plastic and metals.
However, vibratory finishing machine takes quite a long time in surface smoothing and polishing.
Usually, it takes many hours until we can get a perfect surface finishing.
If you are looking for a stronger abrasive force on the AM component for cleaning and polishing, then the centrifugal disc finishing machine is for you.
It helps to bring down the processing time drastically.
Here, the mixture of AM parts with the tumbling media will move to and fro from the centre of the container towards the walls.
Centrifugal disc finishing machine suitable for small and medium-size parts including plastic AM parts and Metal AM parts.
You can see the parts finishing during the process.
Also, you can inspect parts surface quality anytime.
You can finish Vero Cear 3D Plastic SLA, 3D Plastic SLS PA11 Nylon, 3D Plastic FDM ABS & PLA in the centrifugal disc tumbler machine.
Centrifugal barrel machine is best suited for 3d printed parts as it helps to create an isotropic finish in a short period of time.
It works on the Ferris wheel principle.
Here, the barrel creates a centrifugal force on the abrasive media which is in contact with the AM parts.
Thus, the tumbling media will rub against the 3d printed parts to clean and finish the part according to the requirements.
Centrifugal Barrel Finishing Machine is a high energy mass finishing machine.
This equipment is suitable for heavy metal smoothing and grinding.
For example titanium, stainless steel suitable to use this equipment.
You can finish Inconel 718 Metal, DMLS Stainless steel, Stratasys Aluminum, or TiA06V Titanium Metal in centrifugal barrel machine.
6.4 Vibratory Tubs
If the AM part is big or complex, then you can use any of the vibratory tubs from Inovatec.
Here, you have the option to post process each 3d printed part separately in chambers.
This chamber separation allows you to process multiple parts at a time in different compartments.
Vibratory tub suitable for big size 3d printed parts or 3d printed parts with special geometry.
Whether it is plastic parts or metal parts, you can process easily in the vibratory tub.
If you are looking to remove heavy burrs, then barrel tumbling machine is a good choice.
The barrel rotates at a constant speed, thereby creating friction between the AM parts and the tumbling media for cleaning and polishing.
It is suitable for small plastic and metal parts.
Centrifugal Barrel Finishing Machine you can process your 3d printed parts either wet or dry.
7. Role of Tumbling Media in Post Processing Additive Manufacturing Parts
Tumbling media plays a crucial role in the post processing of additive manufacturing components.
These 3d printed parts will have a very rough surface.
So, first, you need to remove this roughness with the help of the right type of tumbling media with a matching cutting feature.
You must ensure that the media doesn’t remove too much of materials from the surface.
7.1 Plastic Media
It is a fused mixture of abrasive and plastic resins.
You can use plastic tumbling media for post processing of AM parts that are made of plastic and soft metals like aluminum.
It is perfect for moderate cutting with very less material removal from the 3d printed part.
7.2 Ceramic Media
If you are post-processing AM parts made of hard metals or metal alloys, then ceramic media is the best choice.
They are available in different cutting rates.
So, you can choose any depending on the amount of material you want to remove from the AM part.
8. Importance of Tumbling Media Shape, Size and Hardness
You can use the tumbling media to finish the external surface, as well as the internal holes or awkward areas in an, AM part.
You can use shapes like sphere and cylinder for outer surface polishing of AM parts.
Shapes like tristar, pyramid, and tetrahedron are suitable for finishing the internal holes.
You can go for a media size bigger than the largest hole in the part, for finishing the external surface of a 3d printed component.
Otherwise, the media may get stuck in the holes.
If you are planning to finish the component holes, then you need to choose a media size less than 1/3rd the hole size.
If you have a highly complex part, then you can even request a custom media shape and size.
9. Importance of Polishing Compounds in Additive Manufacturing Parts Post Processing
If the AM part demands a perfect glossy finish, then you will have to use polishing compounds in the final step of processing.
You need to run this process for a long duration if you are looking to get a mirror-like finish.
Otherwise, you can even use water for wet polishing.
You need to ensure that the pH level of the water is right for the type of component material.
So, all 3d printed parts require post processing before use.
You can’t use an additive manufacturing part directly.
Now, you know the importance of post processing in additive manufacturing.
You can take your business to the next level by investing in some of these best solutions offered by Inovatec.