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IFC purchases S1 shot blast machine from AM Solutions

The company will use the system to achieve a suitable surface finish for its 3D printed orthopedic arm braces

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IFC Intelligent Feeding Components GmbH, located in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, has recently purchased an S1 shot blast machine from AM Solutions – a 3D post-processing technology provider. The company will use the system to achieve a suitable surface finish – and therefore a high degree of comfort – for its 3D printed orthopedic arm braces.

IFC Intelligent Feeding Components not only has expertise in innovative workpiece feeding and assembly technologies but also a 3D printing department equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. There, high-value 3D printed metal and plastic products are made for a range of different industries. Frequently, IFC utilizes innovative scans to create specific component designs for customers. Among other products, the company produces arm braces, which are individually designed and adapted by in-house orthopedic engineers.

IFC purchases S1 shot blast machine from AM Solutions to achieve a suitable surface finish for its 3D printed orthopedic arm braces.

To ensure a consistently high surface quality in the long run, the company has invested in a reliable and cost-efficient mechanical post-processing solution. “We tested many different systems before we finally got to talk to AM Solutions at the Formnext 2022 exhibition. What impressed us immediately was that the equipment, built in-house, is very sturdy and, thus, can handle any industrial environment, no matter how demanding this might be. Moreover, the specialists at AM Solutions quickly understood what we need and with the S1 shot blast system they presented an optimal solution,” said Dominik Riegg, Manager of the AM department at IFC Intelligent Feeding Components GmbH.

IFC purchases S1 shot blast machine from AM Solutions to achieve a suitable surface finish for its 3D printed orthopedic arm braces.

Poly beads vs glass beads

At AM Solutions’ Customer Experience Center in Untermerzbach, covering an area of 400m², the IFC engineers were able to thoroughly test the proposed equipment beforehand. At the same time, they informed themselves about the most suitable blast media – choosing poly beads for their resulting color and satin feel. “We decided to use poly beads for our shot blasting process. This media may be a bit more expensive but offers a considerably longer service life than glass beads. The glass beads penetrated the workpiece surface, which can be highly problematic in the medical field. With the poly beads, we achieve a smooth and highly homogeneous surface finish. This makes the wearing of the arm brace very comfortable,” said Riegg.

Time savings

Before purchasing the S1 post-processing system, the 3D printed products had to be unpacked and shot-blasted manually. Today, after the unpacking process, they are directly loaded into the shot blast machine for cleaning and surface finishing in one single operation. The continuous rotation of the workpieces in the shot blast machine guarantees gentle processing and repeatable blast results. “With our manual shot blasting operation the finishing qualities were very unstable. Now we achieve consistent, high-quality surface finishes and, at the same time, save up to 70% in labor costs,“ said Riegg.

Compared to manual post-processing operations, the S1 system handles a 2x larger quantity of arm braces. “Today, we increasingly handle smaller workpiece batches. To remain cost-efficient, we must automate our manufacturing operations and must have total process stability. Post-processing is an essential link in our manufacturing chain and is a lot more than just making a product ‘pretty’. In the end, automated post-processing is essential for achieving consistent, high qualities, and allows us to expand our technological possibilities. Our S1 system amortized itself in 1.5 years, but its positive effects for our production will last for a long time,” said Riegg.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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