Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Typ4 Powder-Blaster: Low-Cost, High-Volume Depowdering for 3D Printing

ST Medical Devices

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Pulvermeister doesn’t get as much press as DyeMansion and Solukon, two other German firms working in post-processing and automation. This could change, however, because the company does have an interesting line up of products in de-powdering.
The company’s Typ3 system is a fully-automated powder removal and blasting unit that combines these two steps within a vacuum in a single machine. This rather large unit is suited for people who run multiple powder bed fusion (PBF) or Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) machines in a manufacturing environment. For people who have less volume, Pulvermeister has now released the Typ4. The Typ4 Powder-Blaster is a 20-liter machine that breaks open the powder cake, depowders all of the components inside, and then outputs parts and powder, the latter of which is ready to be refreshed and reused.
This kind of automation is welcome with people running an EOS P110 or Farsoon Flight in countries with high labor cost. It is more than interesting for people that run two or three machines anywhere. The completely bonkers thing is that this level of automation is now available for around $25,000. The ROI on this will be months, not years.

The Powder-Blaster is a modular system, in which additional modules can be integrated into your workflow. So, you can add a sand blaster, a mixing unit, or a different blasting material module to your automation solution. This allows users to get into automation for little up-front cost, but means that the tools are extensible if you expand or upgrade. The additional modules will be available in 2022, while the base unit is available now.

Because powder is conveyed in a vacuum, contamination is minimized. This could optimize refresh rates and increases operator safety, as there is less loose powder around. There is no brushing or vacuum cleaner fun involved in this process. Several conveyancing steps are also skipped, which means that this is easier on operators and operator time. With fewer lifting and transport operations for each batch, it’s safer and better on your back, too.

The company has safety features such as an automatic stop when the machine is opened. The machine also switches off automatically if the vacuum is interrupted. The Typ3 is meant to be built tough so that it can last a very long time, while allowing for reliable service.

The machine’s drum rotates, can be inclined at different angles, which can be adjusted, as can processing time. The company claims to give users control in their depowdering process of “adhesive strength of the powder, like its decomposition (or degradation), is linked to the cause of heat absorption in the build process. The more heat the powder absorbs at a particular point, the more it will adhere to the adjacent contact surface and the less likely it is usable for refreshing (degradation). By fine-tuning the 4 parameters mentioned above, it is possible to control how much powder is detached and-thus reused, and in what quality.”

If you can optimize your settings like this, then you can always aim for what is the most efficient and maximize powder reuse, for example. This can have a huge financial impact. The average service throws away half the powder used. The company says that for one P110 build, the machine can depowder and resurface in 30 minutes. The company estimates that, in two days including cooling, one machine can perform 32 P110 builds.

I really like Pulvermeister’s offering. Up and until now, the firm had a highly productive solution that was expensive, but most people don’t get started with the whole hog. Even very large firms tend to buy one, maybe two machines when they get into additive. In their research labs, businesses are often looking for a depowdering solution because they have far employees (and interns) whose time is too valuable to perform the depowdering at expensive office locations. A Typ3 would be much too costly and large for a corporate R&D lab. Due to this, these types of customers often resort to blasting cabinets, which do some automation and have some safety gains.

However, the Typ4 automates much more while removing a lot of powder floating around for the Nilfisk or your blood brain barrier to catch. The added safety benefits and automation with the incredibly low price will prompt these kinds of users to adopt it. And, if Pulvermeister makes a good impression, their customers could grow up together to higher volumes. Universities and single P110 operators could also quite quickly earn this tool back in a few months, if not weeks. I really think that this is an important addition to the market.

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