Automated De-Powdering for 3D Printed Parts

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Additive manufacturing (AM), commonly referred to as 3D printing, has seen double digit growth for several years now, and seems to be showing no sign of slowing down. According to Grand View Research, the 3D printing industry is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 21% from 2021 to 2028. Moreover, a 2021 research report from Industrial AM service provider Essentium found that use of 3D printing has doubled in the past year alone. This growth comes as new AM methods such as liquid metal jet printing (LMJP) help to improve the structural integrity of 3D-printed objects while also lowering post-processing costs. However, many companies will continue to use more established AM methods, such as selective laser melting (SLM), that require post-processing procedures. A new partnership between Festo and Solukon—a company specializing in industrial powder removal—aims to solve the post-processing problem of de-powdering 3D-printed parts. De-powdering is usually the first step of post-processing 3D-printed objects and involves the removal of excess materials that have not been fully fused into the structure of a finished item. Typically, de-powdering can be carried out using manual processes, but this can be costly and time-consuming. By contrast, Solukon’s Smart Powder Recuperation (SPR) system removes particle residue from 3D-printed components by using automated swiveling motions and vibration at calibrated frequencies.

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