What is post-processing in 3D printing?

Parts manufactured with 3D printing technologies usually require some degree of post-production treatment. This important step of the 3D printing process is known as post-processing. In short, post-processing in 3D printing refers to any process or task that needs to be performed on a printed part, or any technique used to further enhance the object. Think of it as a finishing touch to treat and refine parts that come out of a 3D printer. The options for post-processing 3D printed parts include removing support or excess material, washing and curing, sanding or polishing a model to painting or colouring.

Costs of post-processing 3D printed parts

Post-processing can be costly, especially when it is done by hand. Manual post-processing is labour intensive and is not scalable. It will also become unsustainable in large series production. The cost of post-processing can amount to almost one third of the production cost of a 3D printed model.

Once the mould has been created by the mould-maker, the material for the part is fed into a heated barrel and mixed using a helical shaped screw. Heating bands melt the material in the barrel and the molten metal or molten plastic material is then fed into the mould cavity where it cools and hardens, matching the shape of the mould. The cooling time can be reduced through the use of cooling lines that circulate water or oil from an external temperature controller. Mould tools are mounted on plate moulds (or ‘platens’), which open once the material has solidified so that ejector pins can eject the part from the mould.