Italian CNC machining service provider Weerg Srl has announced success in optimizing the post-processing of 3D printed components, achieving cycle time reductions of over 50%. Weerg associates this success with adopting a suite of machines supplied by AM Solutions, the Italian 3D printing subsidiary of the Rösler Group.
These machines include the S1, S2, and C1 systems and an HP Jet Fusion 5200 3D Automatic Unpacking Station, which AM solutions developed in conjunction with multinational printing firm HP. The configuration of this equipment has subsequently enabled a high degree of automation, decreased personnel requirements, and improved overall product quality. This success seems to suggest the scaling and industrialization potential of optimized post-process systems.
Combining machines to optimize post-process
The HP Jet Fusion 5200 3D Automatic Unpacking Station allows components printed with HP Jet Fusion technology to be unpacked in an automated and consistent fashion. Indeed, HP advertises this system as being able to automatically unpack full builds in just 20 minutes. Moreover, its high powder reclaim rate, requiring a minimum of labor input, has enabled Weerl to significantly reduce the wastage of material during unpacking, cutting costs in the process.
An S1 system from AM Solutions achieves automatic cleaning and surface finishing of de-powdered components. The efficiency offered by the S1 2-in-1 system has enabled Weerg to minimize investment costs, reduce space requirements, lower energy consumption, and drastically cut processing times within its production process. In fact, the time required for the cleaning and surface finishing of a printing job has been reduced from 60 minutes to just 20 minutes. Furthermore, the enhanced throughput potential of the system has seen the number of components that can be mechanically finished increase from 60 to 90%.
Weerg also benefits from the minimal personnel requirements offered by the S1, with only one person, instead of two, now required for this post-processing stage. Switching to manual operations when managing larger, more complex components has benefited Weerg. AM Solutions has branded the S1 as setting “new standards in the post-processing of powder bed-based polymer printing process.”
To further optimize its post-processing capacity, Weerg purchased an S2 continuous flow shot blast system from AM Solutions in November 2022. The S2 facilitates the automatic cleaning and surface finishing of plastic components produced with powder-bed printing systems. By incorporating this technology, Weerg has further automated its post-processing, with the S2 requiring minimum operator time and operating the output of several printers. Moreover, the S2 features a polyurethane-based troughed belt. This belt prevents the damaging of delicate components, thus negating the need for Weerg to make costly reprints.
AM Solutions’ C1 system has enabled Weerg to automate the post-processing of MSLA components. With the support and resin removal process based on chemical, thermal, and mechanical effects, the C1 allows for the gentle, consistent, and quick removal of excess material. Furthermore, this system records and stores data such as temperature, processing time, and saturation curve. Recording this key data allows for the traceability of post-processing operations, enabling a consistently high finishing quality for components. Furthermore, sensor-controlled fill level control and replenishment of the compound add to the safety and stability of the process.
Scaling and Industrialization through the optimization of post-processing
The increased automation and efficiency offered by AM Systems’ post-process systems indicate the potential such technologies have in offering increased scaling of production and industrialization within key verticals.
In 2021, the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Formula One team partnered with AM Solutions, acquiring three S1 systems to increase its post-processing automation, economic efficiency, and repeatability. The S1 systems facilitated automatic de-powdering and cleaning operations for its 3D-printed race car components. This technology helped the number of 3D-printed components equipped to that year’s car increase to 304, over twice the number incorporated in the previous year’s vehicle.
Frédéric Vasseur, then Team Principal at Alfa Romeo Racing and former Sauber Motorsport CEO, said, “the innovations brought by AM Solutions help us create parts quickly, more efficiently, and with less waste, meaning we gain more money.”
AM Systems is by no means the only company producing post-processing technology enabling scaling and industrialization in AM. Automated post-processing system manufacturer PostProcess Technologies provided DEMI 430, its automated resin removal post-process systems, to 3D printing service Primary Manufacturing in 2021. The DEMI 430, which features PostProcess’ patented Submersed Vortex Cavitation (SVC) technology, enabled Primary Manufacturing to level up its production and scaling goals by increasing throughput.
The production of post-processing technology to increase industrialization within AM has certainly grown in recent years. Post-processing specialists DyeMansion and Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) have both previously announced efforts to unlock the potential of industrial additive manufacturing through post-processing systems.
In March 2021, DyeMansion launched three post-processing systems geared toward high-volume industrial components. These machines are said to have reduced process times by 20%, increasing load capacity on average by 150% compared to previous models. Furthermore, that same year, AMT closed a £2.5 million funding round which it intended to invest into its “end-to-end industrialized automated post-processing systems.”
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Featured Image Shows Weerg 3D-printed work pieces. Photo by AM Solutions.