Additive ManufacturingAutomotive AMPost-Processing

OECHSLER installs S1 post processing system from AM Solutions

Targets volume production of AM plastic components for the automobile industry

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As one of the first customers, OECHSLER, one of the largest volume manufacturers of 3D printed plastic components, has purchased the S1 post-processing system from AM Solutions – 3D post-processing technology. The automated S1 will assist the company to fulfill the stringent requirements for quality, repeatability of processing results, traceability and cost efficiency that must be met in the automotive industry.

OECHSLER corporation, located in Ansbach, Germany, is a global leader in the production of plastic components. The company has been working with additive manufacturing since 2017, and in the meantime has become one of the world’s largest manufacturers in of 3D printed plastic components. In close cooperation with leading manufacturers of 3D printers and suitable material suppliers OECHSLER has been actively pursuing the volume production of 3D printed components for industries like automotive, household and commercial products and sporting goods.

OECHSLER installs S1
Matthias Weißkopf, Senior Vice President Global Product & Technology Development at OECHSLER

Matthias Weißkopf, Senior Vice President Global Product & Technology Development at OECHSLER, explained: “Post-processing poses a huge challenge in the field of additive manufacturing. For a long time, this aspect of the process chain has been somewhat neglected. But post-processing is a key factor for the cost efficiency and quality of products produced with additive manufacturing. In this respect, an important task is the development and precise definition of automatic post-processing procedures.” “OECHLSER’s experience in series production and the associated post-processing requirements again helped us fine-tune the machine development,” added Manuel Laux, Head of AM Solutions – 3D post-processing technology.

Repeatability

The company was facing exactly this challenge with an innovative product for a leading German automobile manufacturer. This product, with a so-called lattice (crisscross) structure, is printed from a newly developed material. To produce the product in volume, the company had to find an automated post-processing solution that among other requirements meets the demands of the automobile industry for high-quality, consistent processing results. Matthias Weißkopf continued: “Our company had already a long-term relationship with Rösler. When our cooperation partner HP referred us to AM Solutions – 3D post-processing technology, we took the opportunity to not only take a look at this new Rösler division but also study its S1 post-processing solution in great detail. After intensive discussions and many test trials with equipment suppliers offering post-processing solutions for 3D printed components, we chose AM Solutions as our partner.” The plug and play S1 shot blast machine was specifically designed for post-processing of 3D printed plastic components. This machine allows the automatic processing of entire workpiece batches in a rotary basket.

Close up of the S1's processing chamber
Close up of the S1’s processing chamber

Flexibility and process safety

OECHSLER decided to purchase the S1 because it offers a high degree of flexibility for the shot blasting process and allows treating all kinds of different materials like PA, PP and TPU. The machine can be easily switched from automatic to manual operation without the need for time-consuming re-tooling as required with other post-processing shot blast systems. In addition, the S1 offers other valuable technical features like the anti-static polyurethane lining of the inside of the blast chamber and the rotary basket and the ATEX compliant motors and valves. Another major factor was the ergonomic loading and unloading of the workpiece batches. During this operation, the rotary basket remains completely within the blast chamber so that no contaminants like loose powder can spill to the floor. Other significant technical properties were the automatic control and storage of the process parameters and the integrated blast media classification. Matthias Weißkopf added: “These standard features are essential to meet the requirements of the automobile industry and other industrial sectors for process safety, cost-efficiency and repeatability of the processing results. They are indispensable for transforming additive manufacturing into technology for volume production.”

Quick results

The project teams of the two companies jointly developed custom-engineered solutions for the specific OECHSLER process requirements. The open and constructive atmosphere between the two companies was a big factor for achieving the desired positive results within a surprisingly short time span. It allowed commissioning the S1 machine at OECHSLER by the end of August 2020. Matthias Weißkopf concluded: “With AM Solutions – 3D post-processing technology we found a partner, who jointly with us developed an optimal solution that meets our special requirements 100 %. We feel that this partnership offers a big potential for future developments in the field of additive manufacturing.”

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