• Additive Manufacturing Blog, June 2021

    Mastering Post-Processing with Additive Manufacturing

This time on Additive Snack, we’re joined by Felix Ewald, CEO of DyeMansion, who’s here to discuss how post-production can bring high value to additive manufacturing. There’s a lot of discussion in the additive manufacturing industry right now about post-production and just how much of a difference it can make to the value of your final product. 

Fabian Alefeld
Additive Minds Consulting Manager
EOS of North America Inc.

How does post-processing bring an added value to my final product?

When first setting out into the world of 3D printing, Felix discovered that the technology wasn’t quite ready for the vision they had in mind for their final product. Taking a step back to look at the broader picture, Felix utilized the learnings from previous products and designed a 3D printing process to enable them to achieve the quality they were looking for. 

This new look at 3D production enabled Felix and his team to inspect where post-processing changes the game of additive manufacturing and create a whole new way of approaching production: the triangle of complexity.

Don’t let its simple look fool you - just like its name, it’s a little more complex a process, but what it boils down to are the three things that you need to return to throughout the creation of your product: 

  • Design
  • Print
  • Finish

Each of these points individually brings a lot of value to your product. However, if you don’t utilize each of these concepts effectively, it can also cause more problems than solutions. 

What are the fundamental technologies behind post-production?

Finish: the fundamental technologies behind it

When you’re looking at creating end-use products out of printed parts, you will need a post-production process to ensure that the product is consumer-ready. There are three key ways to achieve surface finishing: 

  • Vibratory Tumbling: This is suitable for applications where the end product will remain similar throughout. However, it is limited in terms of design and cannot be used to finish designs of a complex nature. 
  • Shot blasting: While similar to blasting used in other industries and applications, shot blasting can be automated to ensure high quality, economical finish.
  • Chemical smoothing: a solvent is used to dissolve the top layer of the print and gives the part a shinier final finish similar to that used in injection moulding. The drawbacks are that you have to have space to hang the pieces; otherwise, they will glue together, and the hardware required can be pretty costly.

As well as surface finishing, there are also colouring methods to consider (printing with coloured material, spray paint, dip dying). Knowing the final product requirements before producing will help you create an effective workflow from start to finish that will ensure the best consumer-ready product. Returning to your triangle of complexities once you have all of the requirements in mind will provide an optimized and effective outcome.

Not sure which of the above methods is the right process for your product? Try them out. Use samples for each method and see which gives you the finish that you want your end consumer to hold in their hand. Reach out to other businesses that understand the complexities of these processes and can share their experience with your production.

In summary…

  • Use your triangle of complexity to help you to decide the print-to-product workflow for your product.
  • Revisit your options and utilize the production methods that are most suitable for your product to their fullest
  • Look to work with other companies that understand the complexities of the additive manufacturing journey, and use their experience in your development.

Do not hesitate to reach out to me personally,  I’d be happy to assist with any questions you might have.

Fabian Alefeld
Additive Minds Consulting Manager
EOS of North America Inc.