This TechNote on cleaning residues on complex geometries of 3D printed parts was submitted by an industry colleague – Joe Schuttert from Vacuum Process Systems LLC.
The technique of 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, allows for the production of complex geometries, both metallic and polymer, that a few years ago designers could only dream of. However, these geometries present some post printing issues that impede the rapid production times that makes additive manufacturing attractive. One of these issues is the removal of trapped metal powder from these tight features, channels, and porosity of these complex geometries.
A process which is called Vacuum Cycle Nucleation (VCN) has shown good results removing these trapped residuals quickly without any time-intensive manual techniques. VCN is an immersion process which uses 2 second modulated vacuum/pressure cycles to remove unwanted powder from internal surfaces of 3D printed parts. A 2% solution of Luminox® Low-Foaming Neutral pH Liquid Detergent has shown excellent results. The VCN process is fast, and due to the isopiestic nature of vacuum, is non-damaging. The process also incorporates vacuum dying. Parts are removed from the process chamber, clean and dry, helping reduce or eliminate rust or corrosion from residual water on sensitive metals.
Vacuum Processing Systems’ Joe Schuttert reports that testing has shown that Luminox detergent’s low foam formation is ideal for removing trapped powder from tight features in 3D printed metal parts.
Other Alconox Inc. detergents can be evaluated based on substrate and residue combinations for 3D printed parts including those with challenges of cleaning residues on complex geometries.
The VCN process is relatively new. VCN is being used to clean 3D printed parts for major manufacturers and should be of great interest to the medical area such as printed porous orthopedic implants.
Vacuum Processing Systems, designs and manufactures the equipment in which the VCN process is performed.
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