After launching a novel 3D printing system that enables the stereolithographic production of industrial batch sizes, last year, Austrian 3D printing company, Cubicure, has now developed a cleaning solution for the industrially-scalable post-processing of additively manufactured polymer components – further improving the sustainable use of material and occupational safety, as well as saving time and money in post-processing. The process chain can be optimized individually depending on the application.
The customizable cleaning solution for light-based 3D printing allows for the industrial scale-up of the post-processing of 3D printed polymer parts, with several million high-precision components being additively manufactured and cleaned every year.
The first cleaning stage is the centrifugal removal of material residue from the building platforms. This residual resin is collected in a container and recycled through the 3D printing process. “Hot Lithography is already a highly material-efficient process. Thanks to our post-processing solutions, excess material removed during component cleaning can simply be reused,” explained Dr. Bernhard Busetti, product manager for 3D printing systems at Cubicure. “This allows companies to be more sustainable and save costs.”
Additively manufactured components are then processed in an energy-efficient cleaning plant. The plant is equipped with an ultrasonic setting that gently cleans delicate components. The cleaning agent is recycled via a built-in distillation unit, so that even at very high throughput, as little new solvent as possible needs to be added. Fine cleaning can be performed using superheated steam.
Finally, the components are dried in a vacuum cycle. Since cleaning is fully automated and takes place in a closed area, the use of a cleaning system improves occupational safety. Depending on the application, the printed components are separated either directly after printing, between the cleaning steps, or at the end of the entire process chain.
Cubicure’s cleaning solutions represent a further step on the road to fully digital production. The development of a method for the sustainable cleaning of polymer components provides a future-proof solution for the integration of additive manufacturing into modern industrial production processes.