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The Cost of Metal AM Post Processing: A Case Study

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Do you know what the most cost-effective post-processing method is for your metal AM part? Will you be able to meet the serial production volume with your current post processing methods? As metal additive manufacturing is moving rapidly towards serial production, the pressure to deliver the best part quality at the lowest possible cost on time is increasing. This case study compares the processing time, results, and costs of different post processing methods for a metal AM bracket. The case study used a conventionally designed and manufactured bracket. In the first step, the conventionally manufactured holder was redesigned for additive manufacturing (design for additive manufacturing = DfAM). The design optimization step was then expanded to include post-processing (design for additive manufacturing + post-processing = DfAM+PP) to ensure that the printing process and post processing could be carried out as simply and in just a few steps as possible.  After printing the bracket, different post-processing options were selected to finish the part to a polished finish. The post processing methods evaluated include manual post processing, vibratory finishing, dry electro-polishing, wet and dry blasting as well as combinations of these methods. The processing times, results and costs were compared in an evaluation matrix. The results of the study show an overview of the potentials of the different finishing possibilities as well as the technical advantages and disadvantages of these.

Learning Objectives:

  • Be aware of different post-processing methods
  • Be better able to evaluate the entire AM production process chain
  • Understand the results, benefits, limitations, costs and time cycles of different post processing methods