Parts cleaning Post processing technology increases efficiency of 3D printing

Source: Press release

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To streamline its post processing operations, Prototec, a company specialised in 3D printing, purchased the new S1 system from AM Solutions. The general manager was impressed by the operational flexibility and excellent cleaning performance of this machine.

Torsten Wolschendorf impressed by the time savings for post processing that were achieved with the S1 system from AM Solutions.
Torsten Wolschendorf impressed by the time savings for post processing that were achieved with the S1 system from AM Solutions.
(Source: Prototec )

Prototec, located in Attendorn in the German province of North-Rhine Westfalia, is known as one of the first and oldest 3D printing companies in Germany. With different printing systems the company provides tailormade, high-end solutions for customers from many industrial sectors ranging from prototyping, concept, design and functional models to printing small to medium batches of plastic and metal components. Especially the production of larger product batches is rapidly gaining in importance. The general manager, Torsten Wolschendorf, explains: “3D printing has established itself as a technology for rapid prototyping. But now it is definitely trending towards volume production. To provide cost-effective solutions to our customers in this field, at the moment we are investing in several new 3D printing and post processing systems. Especially the post processing in the SLS field offers a great potential and contributes significantly to a higher quality and cost-efficiency of our products. With AM Solutions we found a partner who can offer excellent technological and economical solutions.”

A convincing two-in-one concept

For this reason, since July 2021 Prototec has been using a S1 system from AM Solutions for cleaning and surface finishing of products printed with the SLS method. “I have carefully studied the offers of numerous suppliers. But in the end I decided to purchase the S1, because it offered the highest operational flexibility”, comments Torsten Wolschendorf. In fact, the machine’s smart plug-and-play concept is setting new standards in the field of post processing components printed with powder-bed based polymer printing systems. Especially impressive is that the de-powdering, cleaning and surface finishing functions can all be handled in one single machine. As needed, the blast media can be easily and quickly exchanged. This operation just takes a few minutes. The 2-in-1 concept saves not only the expenditures but also the space requirements for an additional machine. Whenever special single components must be processed, the integrated machine controls allow a simple switch to manual operation. Time-consuming retooling, as required with other machines, is no longer necessary.

The machine controls with a full color display panel offer an intuitive navigation through the menu and allow the callup of up to 30 processing programs.

Cleaning performance of the S1: The picture shows the untreated components on the left side and the finished ones on the right side.
Cleaning performance of the S1: The picture shows the untreated components on the left side and the finished ones on the right side.
(Source: Prototec )

Excellent cleaning performance

The S1 permits the effective, automated removal of residual powder from the components after the printing operation. Torsten Wolschendorf continues: “Actually, the cleaning performance of the S1 is so good that we are saving a lot of time with the preceding unpacking operation”. In this context the effective blast media cleaning and recycling system is particularly advantageous. It separates the usable blast media from broken down media and the loose powder removed from the components. This guarantees not only consistent blast results but also a longer uptime of the dust collector cartridges.

The components are processed in a tiltable rotary basket. The rotation causes the work pieces to gently tumble over each other. This ensures excellent, consistent all-around blasting results. Torsten Wolschendorf is particularly pleased with the time savings: “The S1 significantly reduced the time required for post processing. Previously manual blasting of a full load of midsize components required about 5 to 8 hours. Today we only need about one hour for the same process, including unpacking”.

Customer-specific design yields optimal results

In various details the S1 design was adapted to the specific technical requirements of Prototec. Torsten Wolschendorf concludes: “I am impressed by the open and cooperative atmosphere at AM Solutions. My comments and requests were openly received, their feasibility was examined, and together we found an optimal solution”. Because of the in-house engineering and manufacturing capabilities such a flexibility comes easy for AM Solutions. As a matter of fact, it is specially promoted. Compared to other suppliers, this is an invaluable advantage. In the end both parties benefit from the mutual information exchange. This results in well-engineered, practical solutions with a significant added value for the customers.

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