Klaus Stöcker Metallbearbeitung leverages mass finishing as an alternative to chemical smoothing for its 3D printed parts

Six years after integrating AM as part of its production portfolio, Klaus Stöcker Metallbearbeitung, a company that initially only provided machining services such as turning, milling, sinking and wire EDM, face and circular grinding, assembly and measuring, is now able to deliver ready-to-install 3D printed plastic and metal components to its customers.

While it delivers parts across the automotive, pharmaceutical, food and machinery building industries, it should be noted that the company also fabricates its own tooling, fixtures, gauges and special machinery.

With a portfolio that is made up of FDM/FFF, SLS printing, stereolithographic system (SLA/PJM), Selective laser melting (SLM) and atomic diffusion additive manufacturing (ADAM), the company can produce different types of plastics made up from PA 6 and PA 12, materials reinforced with glass, carbon and Kevlar fiber, aluminum alloys, stainless steel and various tool steels.

However, the turning point of its AM journey occurred when it incorporated services within the entire process chain. According to Arnd Meller, AM Manager at Stöcker, this requires a comprehensive consultation with their customers to determine if a component can be made with additive manufacturing and, if yes, they had to determine the design changes that are required, and the printing technology and material most suitable for each application. [With] post processing, they have been able to supply ready-to-install components to their customers.

At the beginning, laser-sintered plastic parts were cleaned in a manual blast cabinet. However, the rapidly growing demand and stricter requirements for process stability and consistency of the post processing operation could no longer be handled with conventional methods. Therefore, the company started looking for automated solutions. Important considerations were the product quality, the operational safety, the total cost of ownership (TCO) and ease of operation, the company explains.

Initially cleaning of the components with the S1 system was the only subject of the discussions. For the surface refinement of its 3D printed components the company was pursuing different solutions, for example, chemical smoothing.

During a visit at the Customer Experience Center of AM Solutions – 3D post processing technology, Meller realizes that mass-finishing is a cost-efficient alternative to chemical smoothing. The M1 Basic from AM Solutions can enable surface smoothing and homogenization of plastic components including lower surface roughness readings, with repeatable results and with a high degree of process stability.

As a reminder, the post-processing machine has been used for several applications highlighted in the drone and R&D industries. The compact plug-and-play finishing system with integrated process controls allows the surface grinding, smoothing and polishing of 3D printed plastic and metal components. Equipped with an integrated process water cleaning and recycling system and a 230 Volt connection, the M1 Basic can be easily integrated into practically any production environment as stand-alone unit. It allows the finishing of entire work piece batches or single components with dimensions of up 550 x 150 x 130 mm (L X W X H) and with different shapes. The standard processing bowl can be divided into two separate chambers. This allows the simultaneous finishing of different work pieces with different finishing processes.

 “For many components the mass finishing technology represents an excellent alternative to chemical smoothing. The smoothing process is significantly more cost-effective providing us with a considerable competitive advantage”, Arnd Meller concludes.

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