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Where are all the supports?

We recently exhibited at a popular industry trade show where, as you can probably well imagine, just about every major 3D printer technology was represented. Despite differences in the technologies, not to mention the size and grandeur of the exhibits, we noticed a consistent theme across nearly all booths, they didn’t display support structures for their parts and they didn’t describe how their parts need to be post-processed following 3D printing in order to make them usable.

Except one.

In the Rize booth, we proudly displayed parts along with their supports and even included parts still attached to their supports. Unheard of! In fact, Rize booth visitors had an opportunity to separate parts from their supports right in our booth so they could fully understand what it takes to get usable part after a Rize™ One 3D printer builds the part and how that process differs from other 3D printing methods.

Rize release

Why is that? Why is it that other 3D printer manufacturers avoid the topic of post processing, while, at Rize, we publicly describe and demonstrate it as much as possible? There are three important reasons: time, cost and safety.

Time. How long does it take for you to get a usable part after 3D printing? Does your part need to spend hours sitting in a chemical solvent bath before you can use it? Does it need to cure for hours before you can touch it? Do you need to spend time cutting and sanding it, carefully blowing off powder or coating it to make it usable? Gary Rabinovitz, Reebok's Additive Manufacturing Lab Manager told me he spends about 50% of his time post processing, severely delaying when he can deliver usable parts to his internal clients and minimizing the amount of time he has to produce parts that are so critically needed by his product designers and engineers. In an effort to achieve 24-hour turnaround on parts, he finds himself working longer and longer hours.

“We run our 3D printers 24/7 to create the parts central to Reebok’s innovation, and, unfortunately, post processing has been a necessary but laborious and time-consuming process. An easy-to-use, zero post-processing 3D printer like Rize would dramatically improve workflow, enabling us to deliver parts as much as 50% faster than similar technologies while reducing the cost of labor, materials and equipment."

-Gary Rabinovitz, Additive Manufacturing Lab Manager, Reebok

Cost: You can put an ROI on post processing, but you might be startled to calculate its true and often hidden costs. This step, or series of steps, often takes several hours and time is money. Consider the labor cost and the cost implication of having engineering staff focus on post processing rather than other aspects of their jobs. What is the cost of the chemicals needed for post processing, as well as the equipment and facilities required? 

Safe and Office Friendly: Post processing stinks, literally. Desktop 3D printers all require post processing, except Rize One.  Although other desktop 3D printers can build a part on a desktop in an office, the part must be post processed elsewhere. That means, the user must take the part to another area of the facility (if available), properly equipped for this use, to separate the support from the part and coat it in order to make it usable. As such, these systems are hardly office friendly and definitely aren’t safe to use in the office.

“The ease of Rize 3D printing, from file to part, will greatly expand the accessibility and use of the technology. Instead of taking days to prepare a 3D printable file, print and make a model usable, a zero-post-processing 3D printer like Rize will cut that time in half.” 

-Piet Meijs, Associate Partner, Rietveld Architects LLP

Say ‘no’ to post processing. We did.

It’s no wonder 3D printer manufacturers avoid talking about or demonstrating the post processing methods required of their technologies and exclude it from their 3D printing cost and time calculations.

We talk about post processing because we’ve eliminated it from our patented Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) 3D printing technology, saving considerable time, cost and mess, and ensuring an environmentally-friendly, office-safe process.