Additive Manufactured Component Cleaning

Additive Manufacturing has revolutionized the production of complex components across various industries. However, with these advancements comes the challenge of effectively cleaning these intricate parts. The proper cleaning process is essential for removing any residual powder or debris left over from the manufacturing process. Failure to properly clean these components can lead to surface finish issues or compromise the integrity of the component.

Industries that rely on precision and accuracy, such as aerospace, medical, and automotive, require components produced through additive manufacturing to maintain the highest levels of cleanliness.

For example, Additive Manufacturing has transformed the aerospace industry by enabling the creation of lightweight, yet strong components. This technology allows the industry to produce parts that were previously impossible to manufacture through traditional methods and offers design flexibility, faster prototyping, reduced material waste, and cost-effective production.

What are the different types of Additive Manufacturing?

Additive Manufacturing is a process that builds objects layer-by-layer using materials such as plastics, metals, or ceramics. Some common additive manufacturing technologies include:

  1. 3D Printing: 3D printing is a process of building three-dimensional objects by adding layers of material on top of each other based on a digital design.
  2. Binder Jetting: This technique uses a liquid binding agent to bind powder particles together, creating a solid object.
  3. Material Extrusion: In this method, a material is heated and extruded through a nozzle, depositing it layer by layer to form the last component.
  4. Powder Bed Fusion: This process involves selectively melting and fusing layers of powder using a heat source, such as a laser or electron beam.

Challenges in Cleaning Additive Manufactured Components

As mentioned earlier, Additive Manufacturing has brought about a paradigm shift in the way components are manufactured, offering unparalleled design possibilities and precision. However, unique component geometries can pose a significant challenge when it comes to proper cleaning.

The complex shapes and internal channels of these components make them difficult to clean thoroughly, leading to issues such as residual powders, contamination, surface roughness, and difficulty in verification.

Removing residual powders is a crucial step in cleaning Additive Manufactured components, as these residual materials can clog small passageways and compromise the component's integrity.

The rough surface finish of 3D printed components can also harbor contaminants and make cleaning more challenging.

Verification of cleanliness is another significant challenge due to the unique geometries of components, making it difficult to ensure that they meet the strict industry standards.

Despite these challenges, proper cleaning and verification are essential to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of additive manufactured components.

The 4 important benefits of cleaning Additive Manufactured components properly:

  1. Improved Component Performance: Cleaning Additive Manufactured components can help improve their performance by removing any residual powder, debris, or other contaminants that may impact their functionality. This can ensure that the component operates as intended, improving its lifespan and reducing the risk of malfunctions or failures.
  2. Consistent Quality: Cleaning is essential to ensure that components meet the required industry standards. By utilizing proper cleaning techniques, you can ensure that components have consistent quality and meet the necessary specifications every time.
  3. Reduced Risk of Corrosion: Residual powder or other contaminants left on surfaces can lead to corrosion, and potentially compromise the structural integrity of the component. Proper cleaning can help reduce the risk of corrosion, ensuring that the component remains functional and safe to use.
  4. Lower Maintenance Costs: Regular cleaning of Additive Manufactured components can help reduce overall maintenance costs, and prolong the lifespan, by preventing issues that could lead to costly repairs or replacements.

At PFC, we have a deep understanding of the importance of proper cleaning and verification of additive manufactured components. Our team is dedicated to providing top-notch cleaning services for these components, utilizing our extensive knowledge and advanced techniques to ensure they meet the strictest industry specifications.

By choosing PFC as your premier cleaning partner, for both prototype and production level parts, you can trust your components will be cleaned to the highest standards, ensuring their longevity and optimal performance.

PFC’s Capabilities:

Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaning utilizes high-frequency sound waves to create tiny bubbles that implode and dislodge any remaining residue on the component's surface. This method is especially effective for small or intricate components. Our team utilizes ultrasonic cleaning to thoroughly clean components with complex geometries and hard-to-reach areas.

Cleanliness Testing

At PFC, we understand how important it is to meet your cleanliness standards. That's why we offer certified cleanliness testing for Non-Volatile Residue and solid particles.

PFC utilizes state-of-the-art technology such as water conductivity, articulating borescopes with photographic capability, Computer-based Microscopes computer-based micro balances, and computer-based microscopes. Our cutting-edge equipment and expert technicians work together to provide accurate and reliable test results, giving you peace of mind knowing that your parts are up to par with the highest standards of cleanliness.

Pressure Testing

As Additive manufacturing becomes increasingly prevalent in the creation of industrial components, new challenges arise in the process of pressure testing these parts. Factors such as intricate geometries, unmachined surfaces, and rough surface finishes, present unique obstacles in engineering tooling design. Our skilled team has the capability to test parts using compressed air, de-ionized water, and nitrogen. With decades of experience in the industry, we pay close attention to each and every part to ensure that they meet our customers' strict specifications for quality and performance.

Trapped Powder Evacuation

Removing powder accumulation and any residual material generated during the building process is paramount to ensure top-quality results. At our facility, we implement cutting-edge techniques and pneumatic tools to eliminate powder from even the most complex tubing systems and cavities. Our unique approach not only expedites the cleaning process but also delivers impressive outcomes every time.

Aerated Flushing

This advanced process uses a unique combination of air and solvent to cycle through passageways in a periodic cycle, dislodging and removing any powders or loose particles in its path. Unlike traditional flushing methods that use a laminar flow, aerated flushing creates extreme fluid turbulence and offers a more aggressive approach to cleaning even the most complex geometries found in additive heat exchanges.

Turbulent Flushing

Turbulent Flushing offers an excellent solution for effectively cleaning components with galleries and intricate cored passages. The components are connected via hoses to a specialized pumping system designed for recirculation. A filtered solvent tank is seamlessly integrated with this pulsating dynamic pumping system that produces square wave pulses.