3D printing is an invaluable manufacturing tool for aerospace innovation with the ability to produce complex external shapes and internal geometries.
No other manufacturing tool lets aerospace engineers prototype and produce end-use parts to exceptionally low tolerances, with unequalled repeatability at minimal cost in-house.
However, the technology – which builds models layer by layer – creates a post-processing challenge: how can we smooth visible layer lines?
In the case of aerospace parts dealing with air flow, smoothing layer lines is also critical to managing turbulence for consistent airflow.
West Coast Industries, an aircraft and aerospace tooling manufacturing company, turned to AMT PostPro technology to smooth parts and remove layer lines.
West Coast Industries uses a portable tool to build casings. The tool has a 2.5 HP air motor that funnels air through the metal handle. Air flowing through the handle creates heat, and it is not uncommon for operators to drop it, damaging it irreparably.
The brittleness of the part and low manufacturing tolerances make it difficult and expensive to acquire, so West Coast looked for a new manufacturing solution that would:
- Achieve complex external and internal geometries
- Demonstrate low thermal conductivity
- Pass extreme durability and final destructive tests
West Coast Industries collaborated with GoProto, a product development firm in San Diego, California, to produce durable parts with 3D printing.
This led them to HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer technology, which uses two perpendicular cartridges to fuse nylon and detailing agents on the print bed with infrared lamps. Models printed in MJF are self-supporting, and some printer models enable full-colour 3D printing, letting you control individual voxels.
MJF solved West Coast’s design complexity and part brittleness problem with solid nylon, but raw parts didn’t meet impact strength requirements.
GoProto recommended AMT’s PostPro3D technology to improve the mechanical qualities of the part, and following processing, parts passed the impact strength test, demonstrating increased durability over 3D printed raw parts.
Other unintended benefits included improved part aesthetics, easier cleaning, and reduced costs of maintaining spare parts.
AMT PostPro is a vapour smoothing technology with several benefits:
- It completely seals the surface, making it airtight and watertight, eliminating liquid or gas intake
- It improves mechanical qualities by removing porosity
- It smooths out layer lines for an injection-moulded appearance
- It doesn’t take away or add any material, maintaining part’s original specifications.
Find out more about AMT PostPro
AMT PostPro systems are now available at Additive-X. Contact our award-winning team on 01765 694 007 or email email@example.com to find out more.
Material: Nylon 12GF
Part: Aerospace tooling
This case study was created with thanks to GoProto and AMT Technologies websites.