The manufacturing sector has been completely transformed by additive manufacturing (AM), making it possible to create complicated shapes efficiently. Additive manufacturing post-processing stages entail treating or altering the printed parts after they have been produced. In this article, we explore the many post-processing methods used in additive manufacturing and their advantages.
Post-processing describes the numerous methods used to enhance the dimensional accuracy, strength, and surface polish of parts created via additive manufacturing. Post-processing aims to raise the parts’ general quality and increase their suitability for the intended application. There are two types of post-processing methods: mechanical and chemical.
- Mechanical Post-Processing Techniques
Mechanical post-processing processes involve using tools to remove extra material, smooth the surface, and improve the part’s dimensional correctness of all parts. These methods consist of the following:
The subtractive machining method involves cutting, drilling, and milling the component to eliminate the extra material and give it the desired form and quality. Machining improves the part’s dimensional accuracy and surface finish.
- Sanding and Polishing
This mechanical procedure involves using sandpaper, abrasive pads, or polishing compounds to improve the appearance of printed parts. These processes are used to even out a part’s surface and eliminate surface flaws. Whereas polishing is done with a polishing wheel and polishing compound, sanding is done with abrasive materials.
- Bead Blasting
Bead blasting uses microscopic beads or particles to blast the part’s surface, removing surface flaws and producing a smooth surface finish. Metal parts are frequently subjected to bead blasting.
- Chemical Post-Processing Techniques
Chemical post-processing methods use chemicals to enhance the parts’ surface quality and mechanical characteristics. These methods consist of the following:
- Chemical Vapor Smoothing
With chemical vapor smoothing, the object’s surface is exposed to a vapor that gradually melts it, giving it a smoother and more uniform surface finish. This method is mostly applied to items made of ABS and polycarbonate materials.
Electroplating adds a thin layer of metal to a part’s surface to enhance its surface quality and offer corrosion resistance. Metal items are frequently coated by electroplating.
- Surface Treatment
Surface treatment is applying a chemical or coating to the component’s surface. It increases a part’s lubricity, corrosion resistance, or wear resistance.
Alloying is a post-processing procedure used to enhance the mechanical qualities of the pieces created by additive manufacturing. Mixing two or more metals or alloys can create a new material with enhanced qualities. You must use the right alloying material to reap the benefits of post-processing procedures.
Benefits of Post-Processing
Improved Surface Quality
Post-processing procedures can enhance the surface quality of the component, giving it a more uniform and aesthetically pleasant look.
Enhanced Mechanical Properties
Post-processing procedures can improve the part’s strength, hardness, and durability by increasing its mechanical qualities.
Improved Dimensional Accuracy
Post-processing procedures can enhance the part’s dimensional accuracy, which is crucial for parts that need to maintain a close tolerance.
Post-processing methods can make a part more adaptable for a larger range of applications.
The additive manufacturing process is improved by incorporating post-processing techniques. These techniques are used to raise the components’ general quality and make them better suited for the application for which they are designed.