Solukon and Reichenbacher Hamuel GmbH automate unpacking and depowdering of 3D printed parts in a single system

A collaboration with Reichenbacher Hamuel GmbH, a manufacturer of CNC machining centers, led depwodering expert Solukon to further improve the removal of unfused powder for metal 3D printed parts. Together, both companies have been able to automate both unpacking from the container and depowdering in a single system.

Reichenbacher has been operating on the AM market since 2020. The company specializes in large-format and industrial 3D printing systems that encompass the entire process chain in a single system. Specifically, their focus is on the industrialization of the L-PBF (Laser Powder Bed Fusion) process as well as hybridized manufacturing (material extrusion with post-treatment milling).

Solukon reminds that, in general, after the LPBF process, the printed part is in a kind of “powder cake” of unused metal powder in a container. Unpacking the part, i.e., freeing the part from the powder cake, generally involves vacuuming and clearing away powder. Once the part is uncovered and removed from the container, it is placed in a Solukon system in order to automatically remove any unfused metal powder from the interior of the complex part. Using programmable two-axis rotation and vibration, the powder becomes fluid and can flow out of the interior channels in a controlled manner. This is how the powder is usually removed from complex laser-melted metal parts.

So, how do they combine unpacking and depowdering in an automated system?

For this collaboration, Solukon worked with its SFM-AT1000-S, the machine that has recently been upgraded to enhance depowdering of metal 3D printed parts for SLM Solutions. On the other hand, Reichenbacher chose a box with removable bottom and sides, which is secured via a zero point clamping system,

For the process to work, it’s crucial that the entire container in which the part sits is loaded into the SFM-AT1000-S rather than just the part alone. Solukon explains that the Reichenbacher box rotates upside-down, and the first of the loose powder from the powder cake is emptied automatically. Discharged powder is thereafter fed directly into an external material preparation station.

Then, the user removes the box frame with an external mobile lifting device or crane, so that the part is fully accessible. The Solukon system (short swivel arm version) then cleans the part as usual using one-of-a-kind SPR technology® with programmable two-axis rotation and adjustable vibration. With the SPR-Pathfinder® software, the motion sequence in the Solukon system can be calculated in advance easily and automatically using the part’s CAD file. The SFM-AT1000-S can accommodate boxes up to 800 kg and, with the help of a high-frequency knocker, can loosen even stubborn powder clumps in the part’s interior channels, a press release reads.

With Solukon, we once again have a system in our portfolio that has a truly unique selling point and makes us stand out in the area of postprocessing against standard solutions on the AM market. This puts Reichenbacher in a position to map the entire 3D printing process chain. We thank Mr. Hartman and team for their openness and fast execution of the project,” Dr. Alexander Kawalla-Nam, Reichenbacher’s Additive Manufacturing Team said.

The SFM-AT1000-S for combined unpacking and depowdering is now available from Reichenbacher. Solukon is participating as system vendor.


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