Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Almco Offers Speedy Post-Processing Cabinets for 3D Printing Workflows

ST Medical Devices

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AlmcoAt the high end of 3D printing and additive manufacturing methods, mass finishing for FDM parts and various post-processing techniques are a key feature in the work flow.

Now Almco is offering a production tool to manufacturers worldwide to help get their products to market more quickly and more cost effectively, and it all happens once a part has been created via the RCWB-36E.

Almco says they’ve developed a device to break out the bottle neck in the rapid prototyping work flow — the removal of support material without leaving residual solution lurking within the layers of a part printed via fused deposition modeling (FDM).

Using traditional methods to remove support materials following an FDM usually involves a cleaning station of heated sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution and water at about 150°F. A circulator in such systems keeps the solution moving for cleaning action.

Screen-Shot-2015-02-20-at-10.41.04-AMBut the new Almco system — while it uses a similar sodium hydroxide solution to break down the support material — works almost like a dishwasher. It features a revolving carousel structure where banks of jets spray large volumes of solution — at low pressure — on parts as they spin slowly on a turntable. Since the parts aren’t submerged in the solution, drying time is cut as there’s a near absence of solution permeating each part.

Almco says that, depending on the size of a part and its geometry, post-processing can take anywhere from 4 to 15 hours using conventional methods, and that once parts are finished, support removal solution has to be removed which may have saturated the part before it can enter service.

A part processed using their RCWB-36E machine takes about 90 minutes, and there is no additional process for removing solution trapped withing the part, and they add that a “blow-off” option can also be included in the system to speed drying time further.

Almco says this new device features a large part cabinet system of 30” x 30” x 36”, can be used with off-the-shelf solutions for all systems, and can take care of support removal in sixty minutes with rinse and blow off options available.

Products from thealmco logo Almco line of Rotary Cabinet Washers are used by loading parts onto the turntable and pressing the “cycle start” switch. They say the rest of the process is fully automatic. During the cycle, parts are spray washed with a heated, re-circulated, water-based solution and come in a variety of load capacities, turntable sizes, and working heights. Drying cycles are also available.

Do you work in a major additive manufacturing concern? What do you think of this support removal processing cabinet from Almco? Let us know in the Almco Post-Processing forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the cabinet washer in action in the video below.

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