AM Efficiency Redefines SLS Post-Processing

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a powerful 3D printing technology, but the parts it produces require extensive post-processing before use. AM Efficiency has introduced a new solution to make this process faster and easier than ever before. The CCP-2 SLS …

Ile Kauppila

December 15, 2021

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a powerful 3D printing technology, but the parts it produces require extensive post-processing before use. AM Efficiency has introduced a new solution to make this process faster and easier than ever before.

The CCP-2 SLS Post-Processing Station, developed by the Swedish company AM Efficiency, offers a brand-new 3-in-1 method for handling SLS parts post-print. It’s an affordable and efficient post-processing system that takes the hassle our of cleaning your SLS prints. The CCP-2 will not only save you money, but also space in your workshop, allowing you to fit in more machinery.

Let’s take a look at what the AM Efficiency CCP-2 is, why you need it, and how you can start post-processing your SLS prints with a single machine.


Solid Print 3D - AM Efficiency

Why SLS 3D Printed Parts Need Post-Processing

SLS 3D printers — like Formlabs Fuse 1 — use high-powered lasers to melt powdered thermoplastic material into solid objects. The printers lay down a thin layer of powder, melt the desired locations, and repeat this process until they achieve the desired geometry.

SLS offers great benefits over other 3D printing technologies. The packed powder supports the forming parts, which eliminates the need for separate support structures and enables more complex geometries. SLS printed parts also generally have high tensile strength, and operators can recycle most of the unmelted powder.

However, the nature of the powder material also introduces a significant downside. Parts produced with an SLS printer can’t be used straight out of the chamber and require several post-processing steps.

First of all, the parts coming out of an SLS printer’s chamber will have excess powder stuck to them. They must first be cleaned off in a de-powdering step.

Second, the powdered material gives SLS printed parts in a porous surface. As a result, you have to polish the parts if you require parts with a smooth finish.

Finally, due to their porosity, SLS printed parts can easily absorb moisture from air. Although this makes it easy to dye the parts, it can also compromise their structural integrity. As such, you may need to coat the parts with a finishing media.

Traditionally, all these post-processing steps require a separate machine. Purchasing all this equipment can quickly put a big dent in your wallet. Additionally, the process is often simply unpleasantly messy if done manually — especially the de-powdering step.

What is AM Efficiency?

AM Efficiency, a Swedish additive manufacturing equipment producer, realized that SLS printer operators were struggling with the laborious post-processing steps. To offer a simpler and cheaper solution, they developed the Cleaning, Colouring, and Polishing workstation — or CCP.

The company has now introduced the second generation of the machine, titled CCP-2. True to its manufacturer’s name, the CCP-2 aims to put efficiency at the forefront of SLS post-processing.

The AM Efficiency CCP-2 is a 3-in-1 SLS post-processing solution. It combines cleaning, dyeing, and polishing machines into one, delivering a smoother and faster workflow at a significantly reduced cost when compared to purchasing each post-processing station separately.


Solid Print 3D - AM Efficiency

The machine carries out each of these post-processing steps in the same removable 65-liter drum. Additionally, the CCP-2 is a fully automated system with a programmable logic controller, with separate programs for de-powdering, dyeing, and polishing parts.

Users are able to choose which of the processing programmes to run. For parts that only need cleaning, you can use only the de-powdering programme. If your parts require further steps, all you have to do is program the machine to run them after cleaning.

The CCP-2 uses a unique, patented extraction and separation system during part cleaning. This system prevents loose powder from mixing with the blasting media, allowing users to more easily recycle and reuse it. As a result, you can save on material costs by safely retrieving reusable material after cleaning.

AM Efficiency’s system is also scalable, due to the several different operations that can be carried out with one unit. The CCP-2 can also work in tandem with other post-processing units, allowing you to move parts to different machines in case your operation requires specialized processing steps.

Benefits of AM Efficiency

The AM Efficiency CCP-2 post-processing station delivers tangible benefits for SLS 3D printer operators. These include:

  • Cost Savings: Consolidating your SLS post-processing with one machine reduces your expenses, as you don’t need to buy several expensive workstations. The powder extraction system also allows you to reduce material costs by recovering and reusing feedstock.
  • Faster Time to Market: With only a single post-processing unit, you can streamline your SLS 3D printing workflow. You can quickly produce prototype and end-use-ready parts without swapping them from machine to machine or spending time on laborious manual de-powdering.
  • Versatility: You can produce parts with several different finishes by simply using a different blasting medium with the CCP-2. The various media offer greater production flexibility than single-purpose post-processing units.
  • More Workshop Space: Since you don’t need three separate machines, you’ll save a significant amount of space in your factory or workshop. You can fill this space with, for example, more 3D printers to improve your operation’s productivity.

Choose the Right Media

As mentioned, the AM Efficiency CCP-2 uses the company’s self-developed blasting media to perform its various operations. The media come in affordable 25kg containers. The company has three different media available, one for each task.

Not every part needs to go through every single post-processing steps. For example, concept prototypes often require only de-powdering. The AM Efficiency cleaning media is the standard, clean-only media for the CCP-2 that removes excess powder with the pre-set cleaning programme.

If you’d like to unify your part’s surface colour, you can opt for the cleaning and colouring media. This media gives HSS, SAF, and MJF 3D printed parts a smooth dark grey finish without extra effort. AM Efficiency points out, though, that due to their more porous surfaces, SLS parts require traditional liquid dyeing chemical.

For prints that require a smooth and clean surface finish — like consumer products or machinery components — you can use the polishing media. This media gives your parts a perfectly glossy, eye-pleasing surface.

Users are able to run each of these processes separately, or in a series if the printed part require complete post-processing. Each processing programme contains a blasting, ionising, and vacuuming step. The end result is a clean part free of dust and static electricity.

AM Efficiency CCP-2 Technical Summary

Cabinet Volume990 litres
Drum Volume65 litres
Machine Size1,350 x 1,100 x 1,760mm
Power Connection3fase, 380V 16A
Air Pressure4.5 bar, maximum 8.5 bar
Air Consumption800 l/min
Noise Level77 dB
Vacuum3 Kw (included)

Optimise Your SLS Printing Process

The AM Efficiency CCP-2 makes for a worthwhile addition for any SLS additive manufacturing operation. It provides an efficient and economical way to streamline post-processing of SLS printed parts.

The CCP-2 helps users realise a quick ROI. With faster post-processing, you can get products to your customer at a faster pace. The small workshop footprint also frees up space for additional machinery, enabling operators to increase productivity and diversify their product offerings with additional 3D printers.

In some cases, many may be better than one. But the AM Efficiency CCP-2 demonstrates that when it comes to cleaning your 3D prints, the opposite is true.

If you’d like to learn more about the AM Efficiency CCP-2 or its applications, contact our helpful team at SolidPrint3D. Call us on 01926 333 777 or email us at info@solidprint3d.co.uk.

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