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Optimization of Post-Processing 3D-Printed Parts

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Achieving a smooth finish on additively manufactured parts is highly desirable in medical, automotive and aerospace applications. There are many solutions from simple hand sanding and polishing, to highly automated chemically accelerated methods. Tumble finishing is a hands-free method with many benefits including creating a perfect isotropic finish on the outside and some internal surfaces of parts. Utilizing various shapes and compositions of tumbling media, manufacturers can achieve a mirror polish in a matter of hours on parts.

Mass Finishing, Inc. has produced testing on hundreds of 3D printed parts using a variety of materials and printing methods. Over the last decade, tremendous improvements in the starting surface roughness of printed parts make it possible to achieve a mirror finish on parts.

In this presentation, we’ll look at case studies for applications where surface finishing requirements are critical. We will also discuss some best practices and the advantages and disadvantages of various types of tumbling equipment. What are the limitations of tumbling methods for surface finishing? What are the tradeoffs of changing different parameters? What can be done to avoid damaging or taking parts out of tolerance? The discussion will provide these answers and is intended to spark new ideas and possibilities for additive manufacturers.

A recent case study performed by the New Jersey Institute of Technology and their findings will also be included. Before and after post-processing images will be used to illustrate the potential for tumble finishing on additive parts. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the benefits and capabilities of tumble finishing.
  • Define the best finishing equipment for their application.
  • Demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages to tumble finishing.