Additive Manufacturing Post Processing that Transforms the Surface Finish of 3D Printed Metal Parts
Additively manufacturing metal parts is a maturing technology. 3D printed components are now used in mainstream aerospace, motorsport, automotive, medical devices and other advanced applications.
Surface finishing is adapting to meet the needs of additive manufacturers. Holding back the benefit of adopting AM parts for some applications has often been the finish and appearance of the part. Being able to design and print complex shapes is all well and good. Being able to surface finish them though can be difficult, time consuming and expensive, especially if done by hand or with benchtop power tools. Such methods are more likely to damage AM parts and fail to be effective on internal surfaces or deep undercuts.
Fintek has played a significant role along with AM manufacturers, universities and the MTC, in developing automated surface finishing processes that work. You can read more about that here.
Fintek provides subcontract services to automate finishing of 3D printed parts using machines from world leaders in surface finishing technologies - OTEC Präzisionsfinish GmbH , RENA Technologies Austria GmbH and Palms.
Depending on the surface finish required and the geometry of the part, Fintek can produce a process cycle that meets or exceeds the target finish, removes minimal material to keep profiles within tolerance limits and, importantly, supports your commercial needs. This may involve using just one of the technologies or combining both for maximum effect.
As part of our subcontract service, we can process test samples free of charge.
We also supply machines, know-how and back-up to help you integrate your own in-house surface finishing processes that scale with your manufacturing needs.
AM Surface Finishing Technology Overview
Hirtisation® - Removing Support Structures and Surface Finishing Internal and External Surfaces
Developed by RENA Technologies Austria GmbH, Hirtisation® efficiently removes support structures, powder cake, partially melted grains, and reduces the surface roughness of 3D printed metal parts. It works with all common metals and alloys and all types of metal 3D printing technology such as Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM).
As a fully automated chemical-electrochemical process, it reaches into internal surfaces, deep cavities, undercuts and other design intricacies common to AM parts. With no harsh mechanical processing steps, the smoothing effect does not compromise the precision of edge profiles.
Printed metal parts leave the machine clean and vacuum dried ready for further finishing processes if required. The process is quick, taking from just 30 minutes depending on part size and target finish.
Plasma Additive Layer Manufacture Smoothing (Palms)
Palms is a new process from Wallwork's Cambridge research and development centre and their Manchester machine build division.
It is an electrochemical plasma process that smooths and polishes ALM surfaces, hard to reach areas and down holes with minimal edge rounding.
It works on any method of metal component manufacture but is especially ideal for smoothing additively manufactured parts quickly and cost effectively, producing a micro-finish in around 20 minutes.
Disc, Drag, Stream Finishing
OTEC Präzisionsfinish GmbH has been developing world class machines for mass finishing subtractively engineered parts for over 20 years. Now they have applied their vast knowledge to the field of additive manufacturing.
The three ranges of machines disc, drag and stream finishing use the principle of passing a metal AM part through a process media to remove structures, while edge rounding and smoothing surfaces. Each range is differentiated by how it achieves relative motion between the media and part and the way finishing forces act on particular surfaces.
By choosing the type of process, media and then controlling the relative motion of bowls, media and workpieces, surface smoothness values of Ra 0.01μm are achievable.
From mass finishing extremely small parts in CF Disc machines to finishing parts weighing up to 200kg and up to 650mm in diameter in an SF-HP stream finishing machine, Fintek can create the perfect process for your 3D printed metal part.
The ability to reach into holes, deep cavities and undercuts is restricted by the grain size of the process media relative to the geometry of the part. However, when combined with the Hirtisation® process, this is easily overcome.
This flexibility is the uniqueness of the Fintek 3D printed parts surface finishing service. Under one roof we can ensure the best finish for external surfaces and difficult to reach internal surfaces.
At Fintek we scour the world looking for the best surface finishing technologies to bring to the UK for additive manufacturers. We hope to have a new ground breaking technology for this page soon, so add it to your bookmarks and come back.
Not sure which range of finishing machines would work best for you? Then get in touch now.