“Having a perfect 3D printed part is good but enabling workers to produce this part in a healthy environment is much better.”

Bernd Hackemann
CEO, TraXer
Engineer by training, Bernd Hackemann has been working in the additive manufacturing industry for a couple of years. He founded TraXer, a Germany-based start-up that aims at advising professionals from demanding industries such as the automotive, on their use of 3D printing materials. Bernd Hackemann drew our attention last year when he came to us so that we can spread the news about his cleaning agent for alkali-soluble support materials (FDM).

We have invited him in this Opinion of the Week to discover more about the product, the company and how far he has gone on the market. With a sense of humour, Bernd shares today what brought him to this industry; most importantly, he reveals a willingness to advance industrial 3D printing processes in a healthy environment.

Bernd, what brought you to this industry and what led to the creation of 3DWASH?

Ebay brought me to this industry. I saw a 3D Printer several years ago on the online store, I bought it and I immediately got infected. :-) However, I share my expertise to the industrial side of the market.

I have been working for a couple of years in the additive manufacturing industry and today, our core business consists in supporting companies in post processing and support material removal processes.

Speaking of what led to the creation of 3DWash, I realized a few years ago that many professionals of the industry use “caustic soda”, also known as lye or sodium hydroxide (NaOH) with post-processing. During an experience, I found out that the solution can be quite dangerous if mishandled and can cause health problems to its user. Due to the fact that it can be harmful and to avoid the unhealthy chemical solution, professionals do not like printing with these special soluble materials.

We have therefore developed 3DWASH to remedy this situation and to enable 3D printing professionals to work in a safety environment.

Tell us more about the specificities of this solution

Simply put, 3DWASH is a cleaning agent that aims to solve 3D printed soluble support materials. The post-processing stage is very important for many customers since a simple 3D printing process is not enough to get an end-product. Furthermore, the main important step in the post-processing stage is to get rid of the support structure which is linked to the complex geometry.

With a low PH value, our soluble support material has some special additive for polymers and protects the model structures of the print.

The three characteristics that enable this solution to stand out from the crowd are:

  • Its low PH value: no additional dilution or neutralization is required.
  • The fact that it is an eco-friendly solution. Indeed, the user does not require any gloves or goggles to operate 3D WASH.
  • The fact that it works with soluble polymers.

Is the solution only intended for FDM Technologies?

At the very beginning, the solution was only intended for users of Stratasys FDM 3D Printing technologies. However, since Formnext 2018, I realized that the product is also very useful for manufacturers of soluble polymers.

Is there any specific clarification you can bring on the use of 3DWash for soluble polymers?

For professional use special soluble polymers are used as support material together with e.g. ABS or PC-ABS model materials. These soluble thermoplastics polymers are unique: although they are insoluble in water, they can be transformed from a solid to a dissolved state in an aqueous alkali solution. Dangerous or toxic organic solvents are not required. But to avoid high pH levels 3DWash has been developed.

How do you manage to develop this market?

Usually, such type of products is developed through manufacturers’ network of distributors but they are not always open to add them in their portfolio. However, given the fact that the target consumer base has been recently extended to a wider group, I reach out directly to the industrials.

Is there any recommendation you would like to give to people who do not know such type of product?

My biggest concern while developing this cleaning agent was and will remain work safety. It is a pity that some companies still don’t care. Having a perfect 3D printed part is good but enabling workers to produce this part in a healthy environment is much better.

Bernd Hackemann

Your last word?

There is a big difference between the professional, industrial 3D printing markets and now common consumer products. I am mostly on the industrial side of the business.  I believe, this precision is really important to make.

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