Methods of Post-Processing in 3D Printing Process
Post-processing is an important part of the 3D printing process, but the client’s often overlooking it. The additive manufacturing market now considers the look and feel 3D printed products as vital as its functionality. At Creatingway, we endorse some level of post-production treatment for every 3D printed product. In definition, the product goes through processes that further enhance the product. You could liken this to adding a finishing touch and refining parts that come out of a 3D printer. There are several ways of post-processing 3D printed parts. Such as washing or removing excess material. Here is further insight into the various methods of post-processing in 3D printing.
The Available Techniques of Post-Processing For 3D Printing
There exist 5 different methods of post-processing. However, the choices vary depending on the printing option used in creating the part. The methods include:
- Surface finishing
Surface Finishing For 3D Printing Process
After cleaning and cutting the parts, they need to look good. Surface finishing is a good example of post-processing. It is available to improve the aesthetic value of a part. Mainly, for products keen on the consumer markets.
We use chemicals to smoothen part surfaces. Examples of such chemicals are acetone and tetrahydrofuran. Models made from the SLA and SLS method may need chemical smoothing. The post-processing involves the reaction of the chemical with the outer layer of the part. Then it results in the melting of the lines away. Lastly, it leaves a smooth outer layer giving the part a glossy look. However, it faces a few disadvantages. It is hard to prevent the melting away of the small features. Also, there is the formation of harmful fumes when inhaled cause respiratory issues. Thus, we handle the chemicals in a closed cleaning machine.
Sanding is important in smoothing part surfaces. Instances that need sanding are visible layer lines after using a layering method. Others are on touch-points from removed support structures. The ideal sanding option is using sandpaper with varying grit. This ranges from low to high smoothing degrees. Automated sanding avoids the possibility of obtaining erratic results with manual sanding. Making it a great post-processing option.
Sometimes the process of 3D printing may result in defective parts. Small holes and even cracks can form which may render the part useless. These defects need repairs for the part to function properly. Other cases of repair include attaching separate parts. Below are the post-processing methods used.
We use glue to attach separately printed parts. The substance used is acetone to glue SLS printed parts.
We use filling to fix unwanted cracks or holes. The ideal material is fillers or hardeners for the printed object.
Cleaning is an important post-processing step that removes support material or powder from parts.
Removing Support Material
Printing models with overhangs often have a support structure. Often, we print the support structure using the same material as the model. Also, they function in holding the overhanging feature in place when using SLA. The special material could either be soluble or insoluble. Insoluble materials are usually strong. We remove them using special tools such as knives and pliers.
However, there is a risk of removing small features or causing damage to the model itself. Therefore, we observe great care during this post-processing. This may render the 3D printed part defective. Soluble support structures have less risk of part damage. We can either use water or a special chemical called Limonene to dissolve the support structure. Great examples include HIBS and PVA that are examples of support structures.
Parts made using SLS sometimes remain with a powder residue. They cling on the model in sites such as holes or internal channels of the model. The option of removing the powder is either manual or automatic. In automation, the machine vibrates or rotates while 3D printing. This shakes off the excess powder. It, therefore, behaves like a centrifuge that spins the part in all directions.
This process works best with parts made using the SLA process. We have combined the 3D printing process. The liquid used is alcohol that washes off the excess material.
Coloring is a post-processing step to get colored prints. Obtaining a colored print is possible with a multi-material 3D printer. However, to color apart, they need to first be printed using white material. This is a neutral color that accepts other colors
Curing in post-processing enhances the mechanical properties of the plastic part. Therefore, it is important to bake models after printing them. Special machines heat the parts until it achieves its optimum mechanical properties. SLA and photopolymerized printed parts are often cured after printing. Also, curing not only improves aesthetic features but also the physical properties of the part.
Post-processing continues to be an important part of the 3D printing process. Contact Creatingway now for your post-processing needs.
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