PostProcess claims that VAD technology has been operating successfully with large industrial customers, processing hundreds of SLS powder cakes and thousands of parts in production environments.

PostProcess is a US-based global provider of intelligent post-printing solutions for additive manufacturing, and EOS is a Germany-based industrial 3D printing manufacturing solutions provider. To provide EOS consumers with a completely automated and sustainable depowdering solution, the companies have announced a collaborative alliance. With the PostProcess Variable Acoustic Displacement™ (VAD) technology, 3D printed parts’ gross depowdering is automated, completing the EOS printer product line. Through this agreement, consumers will find it simpler to purchase post-printing solutions, further enabling the workflow to be fully digitalized from part design through 3D printing and post-processing. In some circumstances, safety and sustainability issues can arise from the extremely manual or semi-automated nature of the current techniques of powder removal, claims PostProcess. PostProcess’ VAD system releases, transfers, and recovers loose powder particles while being thermodynamically regulated using video and infrared monitoring – according to PostProcess.

“We are proud to solidify this partnership with EOS, a global leader in industrial 3D printing, to help end users more easily adopt the complete workflow of additive manufacturing and scale their operations,” said Jeff Mize, PostProcess CEO. “EOS stands behind their sustainability objectives and shares in our dedication to ensuring additive manufacturing scales sustainably.”

“This partnership with PostProcess provides a digital connection that enables traceability and connectivity. We found the perfect match with PostProcess in providing our customers with sustainable automated post-processing for their delicate and complex parts manufactured using the EOS P 500,” said Nikolai Zaepernick, Chief Business Officer at EOS.

The build chamber of an EOS industrial polymer 3D printer. Photo via EOS.
The build chamber of an EOS industrial polymer 3D printer. Photo via EOS.

PostProcess Variable Acoustic Displacement™ (VAD) technology

The VAD technology uses PostProcess’s exclusive AUTOMAT3D® software platform to thermodynamically control the depowdering process. Software-tuned frequencies can recognise geometries, and sound (pressure) waves can be used to mechanically de-cake powder without causing any damage. In a closed-loop solution that reuses powder and enables maximum sustainability, these functions are automatically tracked and modified in real-time.

Previously, a customer in Europe received the first Variable Acoustic Displacement (VAD) powder removal system that PostProcess Technologies had produced. VAD, the fifth technology family in PostProcess, was first introduced in October 2020. The method, which is pending patent protection, was created specifically to depowder parts made using multi-jet fusion (MJF) and selective laser sintering (SLS). The customer, an unidentified consumer brand, looked for the technology to add end-to-end data connectivity to its SLS 3D printing workflow in order to make it safer and more scalable. Following a period of thorough customer validation, the shipment itself prompted PostProcess to move forward with a global commercial launch.

PostProcess Variable Acoustic Displacement (VAD) technology. Photo via PostProcess.
PostProcess Variable Acoustic Displacement (VAD) technology. Photo via PostProcess.

Sustainable depowdering and post-processing solutions

In addition to being crucial for optimizing the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printing process, managing powder behavior is also crucial for manufacturers to reduce costs.

Both small businesses and mass manufacturers can increase their Return on Investment (ROI) while lowering their overall costs by reducing powder refresh rates. Not all users require such substantial machinery, despite the fact that large industrial SLS 3D printers frequently include dedicated powder handling stations to improve their production workflow.

Sinterit, a Polish manufacturer of printers, has consequently introduced its own line of powder-optimizing solutions. The firm’s powder toolset promises to speed up the printing preparation process for its customers, and its ATEX vacuum cleaner is made with comfort and safety in mind.

Previously, an automated depowdering station for binder jet systems was introduced by Digital Metal, a Swedish metal 3D printer maker. The newest machine from Digital Metal, the DPS 1000, is made to automate post-print powder recycling and make it simpler for users to serially produce binder jetted parts. As one of the first organizations to implement the new system, Fraunhofer IAPT plans to use it to promote its larger research into the industrialization of 3D printing that is material-efficient.

Elsewhere, Solukon Maschinenbau, a manufacturer of post-processing systems, had unveiled its automated de-powdering machine for polymer parts produced using SLS systems. According to Andreas Hartmann, Technical Director and Co-Founder of Solukon, the Solukon SFP770 system is an “automated solution for industrial processing of powder-based AM parts.” The Solukon SFP770 was demonstrated at the Formnext Connect online event in November 2020. Private US aerospace company Launcher had designated Solukon as its trusted supplier for powder removal systems. For the post-processing of large 3D printed rocket parts, such as engines and combustion chambers, Launcher had integrated Solukon’s SFM-AT1000-S depowdering machine.

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By GIL