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Effect of post-processing on the dimensional accuracy of small plastic additive manufactured parts

Joseph Nsengimana (Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, Central University of Technology, Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa and Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Rwanda-College of Science and Technology (UR-CST), Kigali, Rwanda)
Jacobus Van der Walt (Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, Central University of Technology, Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
Eujin Pei (Department of Design and Physical Sciences, College of Engineering, Brunel University London, London, UK)
Maruf Miah (CAD Design, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 13 December 2018

Issue publication date: 21 January 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the effect of post-processing techniques on dimensional accuracy of laser sintering (LS) of Nylon and Alumide® and fused deposition modelling (FDM) of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) materials.

Design/methodology/approach

Additive manufacturing (AM) of test pieces using LS of Nylon and Alumide® powders, as well as the FDM of ABS materials, were first conducted. Next, post-processing of the test pieces involved tumbling, shot peening, hand finishing, spray painting, CNC machining and chemical treatment. Touch probe scanning of the test pieces was undertaken to assess the dimensional deviation, followed by statistical analysis using Chi-square and Z-tests.

Findings

The deviation ranges of the original built parts with those being subjected to tumbling, shot peening, hand finishing, spray painting, CNC machining or chemical treatment were found to be different. Despite the rounding of sharp corners and the removal of small protrusions, the dimensional accuracy of relatively wide surfaces of Nylon or Alumide® test pieces were not significantly affected by the tumbling or shot peening processes. The immersion of ABS test pieces into an acetone bath produced excellent dimensional accuracy.

Research limitations/implications

Only Nylon PA2200 and Alumide® processed through LS and ABS P400 processed through FDM were investigated. Future work could also examine other materials and using parts produced with other AM processes.

Practical implications

The service bureaus that produce prototypes and end-use functional parts through AM will be able to apply the findings of this investigation.

Originality/value

This research has outlined the differences of post-processing techniques such as tumbling, shot peening, hand finishing, spray painting, CNC machining and chemical treatment. The paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each of those methods and suggests that the immersion of ABS test pieces into an acetone bath produced excellent dimensional accuracy.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) through the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM) and Product Development Technology Station (PDTS) and De Montfort University (UK). The authors acknowledge also the support of University of Rwanda-College of Science and Technology (UR-CST). Funding for this work was made available by the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant №97994) and the Collaborative Program in Additive Manufacturing (Contract №CSIR-NLC-CPAM-15-MOA-CUT-01).

Citation

Nsengimana, J., Van der Walt, J., Pei, E. and Miah, M. (2019), "Effect of post-processing on the dimensional accuracy of small plastic additive manufactured parts", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-09-2016-0153

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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