What’s With Heat Treating 3D Printed Products?

Working in Tandem: Heat Treatment & 3D Printing

3D printing and heat treatment have a beneficial relationship. Heat treating of 3D printed projects has been shown to dramatically increase the strength and stiffness of certain 3D printed parts. On the other hand, 3D printing of heat treatment parts can be advantageous in the manufacturing process and subsequent properties of the 3D printed parts.

Note that practically all 3D printed materials have surfaces that are near net shaped, meaning the initial production of the object is very close to the final or net shape, reducing the need for surface finishing. There is a no compromise for contamination on any surfaces, which thereby requires temperature control during this process to remain at 2° F. Thus by combining heat treatment with 3D printing, manufacturers are able to directly thermocouple (a sensor used to measure temperature) the pieces they are producing while also improving the specific characteristics of the product being produced.

Plastic materials are mostly used in 3D printing. Polyactic acid plastic or PLA is one of the most common filaments used in 3D printers. It’s strong but occasionally brittle. By heating PLA materials quickly, after extrusion and rapid cooling, the PLA structure transforms from a previously unorganized and amorphous structure to a completely reformed structure that exhibits an increased amount of large crystals. The size and number of the crystals limit material failure and improve its response to stress.

On the other hand, when heat treated parts are 3D printed, the parts have enhanced performance while their typically bulky size and weight are reduced. This gives manufacturers freedom in the design of nonlinear geometries of these parts.

This is called thermal management, an important engineering component often used within the electronics, aerospace, automotive and energy industries. The devices used within these industries often generate excess heat that must be managed to improve its reliability and prevent premature failure of the devices. Hence, combining thermal management and 3D printing technology can lead to a whole new ballgame in the manufacturing industry, improving the performance of parts and devices at reduced size, weight and cost.

3D Printing Company in Seattle

When you need parts or devices that are 3D printable, look no further than 3D Composites Seattle and benefit from top notch product performance at reduced cost and wastage.