Rize, an industrial 3D printing company based at the outskirts of Woburn, Massachusetts is advancing in the field by leaps and bounds. Primarily, the company aims to get rid of the expensive, time consuming and laborious post processing activities of professional quality 3D printing. Recently, Rize has launched their industrial grade yet desktop 3D printer Rize One, which they claim will completely eradicate the need to post process printed items. This will truly make rapid prototyping rapid, helping to cut costs and enabling manufacturers to streamline their production operations. They put to use their patented technology APD (Augmented Polymer Deposition) which will bind functional inks with thermoplastic filament. This leads to clean and simple support removal, making it no longer necessary for any post processing to be conducted.
Upon speaking to Rize recently about eliminating the need to post process and their patented technology that will help them do so, we found that the 3D printing company to release a report in detail about these issues. The strain of post processing on manufacturers is immense, which has been highlighted in the report titled ‘3D Printing: the Impact of Post Processing”. Industry expert of international fame Todd Grimm was commissioned by Rize to prepare the report. Grimm has seventeen years of valuable experience in the industry of product development, including technologies like rapid prototyping. In order to give an in depth look into the impact that post processing has, Grimm spoke to six manufacturers on a global level from industries that specialize in medical devices, consumer products, automobiles, architectural works and sporting goods.
The report starts off by elaborating on the misconception that post processing is, in fact a necessary and unavoidable evil. It then moves on to the two post processing categories- primary post processing and secondary post processing. Primary contains all the necessary steps for making the part suitable for its intended application. The process includes support structure removal and cleaning. Secondary on the other hand is used in order to improve the aesthetic or functions of the part that includes methods like painting or priming.
After Todd Grimm spoke with the six global manufacturing representatives, he was able to find out that the prospective users were to plan ahead for one hour of post processing in order to print six hours worth of material in 3D. It means that post processing increases the production time by seventeen percent. Larger parts, of course need shorter time to be made and hence the post processing does not consume all that much time. However, more intricate and smaller parts take longer to post process compared to simpler, larger ones. Another factor that the report enlightened on was that the number of staff needed for post processing. The ratio can range from 1:1 to a 1:3 ratio of machine operators to part finishing personnel.
Some additional facilities are also to be considered when there is post processing to be done. The equipment and space to work necessary for post processing in rapid prototyping requires quite a lot of room. The room size takes up almost half to one square foot of space per 3D printer space of every square foot. The biggest concerns of the six companies were that when post processing comes into play, money and time needed is huge. The report by Grimm does a breakdown of the cost that is added additionally to rapid prototyping when post processing is involved. One of the major concerns of manufacturers is the cost of labor. Businesses that own four to ten 3D printers in order to provide rapid prototyping services spend an average of one hundred to five hundred thousand dollars as labor cost, which equals twenty five thousand to fifty thousand dollars annually for each 3D printer they use.
As for the extra time added, Grimm’s report illustrates that post processing adds seventeen percent more time to the process of manufacture, which is of course, dependent on the basis of individual batches. In order to post process after rapid prototyping of a single part, it does not prove to be all that time consuming of an endeavor. However, when more parts are involved, post processing can severely delay the process of production. Post processing in rapid prototyping services can delay the time of processing by an entire day or even more. For example, if a part has been finished 3D printing towards the end of the day, the post processing will delay the operation until the next workday.
When there is no post processing, the 3D printing process’s value can be increased substantially, according to Grimm. For some firms, it would enable them to perform value added tasks more in order to improve quality of parts and expansion of the application base. For others, it may dramatically speed up the total process, increasing total throughput and responsiveness of the rapid prototyping process. For the companies that add new 3D printers to their fleet, post processing elimination would decrease labor expenditure by twenty five to fifty thousand USD per machine.
The six companies that participated in the report preparation cited staffing, quality, facilities and safety as post processing secondary issues. Grimm ultimately claims that post processing is nothing but a non-value added function that is as if a burden on the process of production. This is mainly why Rize with their patented APD technology set themselves apart from other providers of rapid prototyping services and 3D printer manufacturers. With the help of a post processing free 3D printing process, faster and better automated workflow can be ensured that is less costly and more efficient at the same time.
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