Dec 16, 2016 | By Julia

PostProcess Technologies, an American startup affiliated with the University at Buffalo (UB), has cashed in on a previously untapped market in additive manufacturing: cleaning and polishing 3D printed products.

Daniel J. Hutchinson (left) and Jeff Mize (right) with the PostProcess line of service products

Whereas most 3D printing businesses focus on scanning, modelling, and printing, PostProcess founder Daniel J. Hutchinson noticed little was being done for all the debris that builds up during the 3D printing process.

Hutchinson, a veteran, realized the demand for cleaning 3D printed parts after visiting a defense contractor. With support from UB via the START-UP NY economic development program, Hutchinson went on to found PostProcess Technologies.

The Buffalo-based startup has developed an automated system for cleaning 3D printed metal and plastic items, including interior spaces. Among the first in its field, PostProcess Technologies uses software, chemicals, and patent-pending hardware to remove support structures, finish surfaces, and treat wastewater.

“There is a misconception about additive manufacturing that the printed parts come out and they are ready to go,” said CEO Jeff Mize, a former Silicon Valley executive. “You have to remove the supports and in most cases finish the surface to deliver a customer-ready part.”

Consequently most companies have to cope by hand-cleaning 3D printed items, typically using high-pressure sprayers. The process is meticulous, and takes time. The PostProcess machines, on the other hand, provide an automated cleaning service that is much faster and more consistent.

The machine contains detergents specifically formulated for 3D printed materials, which are controlled by an algorithm. Sensor data adjusts in real time which ensures that the waves are not sinusoidal, and prevents congestion in the corners of the tank. Detergents can be tuned according to the density of the material without impacting the final printed object. Surface finishing technology then polishes objects by gentle circulation. Energy is tightly controlled to prevent part damage.

a 3D printed part cleaned by the PostProcess system (credit: Douglas Levere)

Currently, the company outsources assembly of the machines. Dimensions vary from the size of a toaster to two household refrigerators, and the machines can clean parts up to 3 feet long. Prices range from $1,500 to $150,000 USD.

But for the moment, you may just have to wait on your new cleaning machine. The PostProcess system has proven so successful that the company can barely keep up with the staggering demand. “We currently have a backlog,” said Hutchinson. “It’s a great problem to have in any seasoned company, and as a startup it is a blessing.”

In the future, Hutchinson hopes to expand into potential markets such as dentistry, automotive, aerospace, and medical.



Posted in 3D Printer Accessories



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Spaceman wrote at 12/19/2016 2:45:16 AM:

Over priced

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