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Shot Blasting Crucial for Superior Surfaces in 3D-Printed Parts

Image courtesy of Knauss Tabbert 3D-printed plastic components
Knaus Tabbert bets on post-processing system from AM Solutions to deliver perfectly clean 3D-printed components for its recreational vehicles.

With their innovative designs and powerful drive systems, the motor homes, panel trucks, and other vehicles from Knaus Tabbert AG allow safe, comfortable, and sustainable traveling. At its German headquarters in Jandelsbrunn, the company is dedicated to continuous improvement in the materials it uses and designs of its vehicles. Furthering this goal includes the adoption of new manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing (AM).

Mario Meszaros, Development Engineer at Knaus Tabbert explains: “On the one hand we are using 3D-printing technology for creating prototypes. On the other, we are also utilizing additive manufacturing to produce standard components in volume, such as the bracket for an alarm system and the hinge mechanism for the swing-out shower stall.”

To date, the de-powdering and cleaning of polyamide (PA) 12 components, produced by a powder-bed printing system, was accomplished manually in a blast cabinet. This operation required labor and time, and produced inconsistent results. The company sought an automated alternative.

Processing trials were run with different components in the Customer Experience Center at AM Solutions, a division of the Rösler group specializing in post-processing of 3D-printed components. Following the trials, Knaus Tabbert chose the S1 shot blast system for its operations.

Image courtesy of Rösler Oberflächentechnik GmbHS1 shot blast system

The plug-and-play S1 shot blast system from AM Solutions is a triple threat, de-powdering 3D-printed plastic components as well as performing surface smoothing and part homogenization simply by changing the blast media.

The shot blast machine was specifically developed for the post processing of plastic components produced via the powder bed printing method. The plug-and-play S1 reportedly is the only machine on the market that performs de-powdering, surface smoothing, and homogenization of 3D-printed components simply by changing the blast media, for example, from glass beads to plastic spheres.

The S1 is equipped with a basket that rotates during the finishing operation and allows easy, ergonomic loading and unloading of the work pieces, enabling fully automatic batch processing. Throughout the entire process, the basket remains in the machine housing. This construction combined with a door-sealing system prevents powder from spilling. The control panel allows quick switchovers to manual operation without any retooling.

“The fact that after surprisingly short cycle times the components came out of the machine perfectly clean and without any powder residues was very impressive,” said Meszaros. “With the underlying operating data, I prepared an ROI calculation. The results quickly convinced our management: Even with only three print jobs per week in the S1, we already achieve a return on investment after roughly two years. However, it is safe to assume that the quantity of 3D-printed components will increase significantly. This will drastically reduce the amortization period,” said Meszaros.

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