By now we all know the potentially revolutionary promise of 3D printing. Many companies that depend on intermediary products have already begun to consider alternatives. Does it make sense to purchase 3D printing equipment in-house? How necessary is 3d printing post processing to the materials needed for production?
For the immediate future, 3D printing is just the beginning of the additive manufacturing process. There are many other post-printing processes necessary before the part can be used. Companies must consider all costs and processes related to preparation before a decision. Here are the top four reasons 3D printing is just the beginning of the process.
1) External Texturing
Depending on the addictive process used, the printed 3D product can have a variety of external textures. Generally, less expensive methods can leave a rougher, uneven surface. Most 3D printed manufacturing products require some texturing adjustments before they are usable. Some products, for example, need a completely smooth surface to reduce friction.
2) Surface preparation
Because the final 3D printing product can have an uneven surface, it may need treatment before additional processes. Some products must be painted or dyed for aesthetics or labeling. Other products may need rustproofing or water-resistance treatment. 3D printing may not prepare the surface of your product for those additional processes.
3) Fine Machining
Most complicated manufacturing involves multiple pieces that must eventually fit perfectly together. While it is possible to use a finer material and more exact process, this usually costs extra money. It is often easier to 3D print products larger than the needed scale. Following this, 3d printing post processing can be used to ensure geometric accuracy among different parts. The parts can even be assembled as part of the process.
4) Quality control
Quality control is a huge part of any manufacturing process. 3D printing is no different in this regard. Different printing processes, air gaps in material lines, and grooves formed by the layering process can impact the product. Post-processing can examine pieces for imperfections that could lead to early metal fatigue or stress fractures.
There is no question that additive manufacturing may one day change the way we create products. For the time being, however, post-processing is still required on nearly every 3D printed product.