The Importance of File Preparation for Post Process Automation

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The world of additive manufacturing requires continuous learning to stay on the cutting edge. At ELITE Additive, our team has decades of experience learning, utilizing and teaching industry professionals file processing for additive polymers (real thermoplastics). Although learning the nuances of processing, simple to complex designs can take time, we have a few suggestions to help you along your way of printing quality parts.

You may have heard the term “Green Flag," this is a file processing automation feature in the Insight software (Stratasys FDM), that slices, generates support, and toolpaths automatically.

Unfortunately, being labeled a “Green Flagger," doesn’t necessarily mean that you're the Chuck Norris of printing quality parts. Automated (i.e., Green Flag) file processing may seem convenient, but only convenient to limiting yourself to exciting application possibilities...one of them being post processing for real manufacturing.

When processing files for post process automation, the Green Flag feature is something from which you may want to stay away. Although the Green Flag feature preps the file to print a part (default parameters), it doesn’t provide the quality outcome you need when preparing a file for post process automation to support true additive manufacturing, specifically with polymers.

Each geometry is unique, and to achieve the desired part quality that is compatible for post-processing methods for manufacturing, specific print parameters have to be applied along with an understanding of how plastics model inside the 3D printer. Which makes us want to mention that orientation is key when printing polymer parts for manufacturing processes too. Yes, orientation can play a factor in feature strength, print speed and or surface quality. But in any scenario, there will be layer lines present that need to be smoothed, or an applied deformation process (just the surface) to improve overall integrity per desired application outcome. Gradually sloped surfaces, small features, and outside surfaces/edges are a few critical areas that custom parameters/right orientation will be needed for the chemistry to work with any conventional secondary process. So the experience with how these materials (i.e., amorphous & semi-crystalline) model takes considerable time to know what parameters work for that particular geometry.

ELITE Additive, would like to thank you for your interest and time viewing this article. Our mission and goals to bring full comprehensive solutions eliminating today's bottlenecks, allowing increased production volumes, repeatable, high-quality parts, for the advancement of additive into mainstream manufacturing.