Post Processing for 3D Printing, Laser polishing of 3D Printed Plastic Components (VIDEO)

by Karsten Braun, Scientist, Fraunhofer Institute for laser technology ILT

Despite their great potential for individualization, 3D-printing processes for polymer parts like SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) and FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) have the particular disadvantage of a high surface roughness; therefore, surface finishing is often necessary. However, current finishing procedures often have deficits such as low flexibility, long process times or incorporation of abrasives in the component. Therefore, Fraunhofer ILT is developing a non-contact, laser-based polishing process for additively manufactured plastic components.

In this presentation process basics of laser polishing including a special process strategy called “quasi-top-hat scanning strategy” that is especially suited for plastics will be explained and recent achievements on 3D-printed polymer parts will be presented. Example materials are Polyamide, PEEK or TPU and example roughness values after laser polishing are between Sa = 0.1 µm and Sa = 1 µm. It will also be discussed where laser polishing might be applicable as an ancillary post process in the future.

Using a laser means also using the photonics technology! This is an interesting application of photonics.

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About Karsten Braun

  • Name: Karsten Braun, 28 years old
  • Studied physics at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany
  • Master thesis was written at the Fraunhofer ILT in the field of laser based optics manufacturing
  • Since 2016: Scientist at the Fraunhofer ILT and working on the laser polishing of glass and plastics

About Fraunhofer Institute for laser technology ILT

With more than 540 employees and more than 19,500 m² net floor space the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is worldwide one of the most important development and contract research institutes of its specific field. The activities cover a wide range of areas such as the development of new laser beam sources and components, precise laser based metrology, testing technology and industrial laser processes. This includes laser cutting, caving, drilling, welding and soldering as well as surface treatment, micro processing and additive manufacturing.
The Fraunhofer ILT is part of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, with 72 institutes, more than 26,600 employees and an annual research budget of 2.6 billion euros.

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