Smooth surfaces, sharp edges

2021/02/04 — Spaleck Oberflächentechnik GmbH & Co. KG has come up with a new technique for smoothing and polishing components produced through AM. Known as linear force finishing (LFF), this innovative method involves moving isolated components at a high frequency, which enables it to work with complex geometries and very coarse surfaces, as well. Spaleck – a Bocholt-based company (western Germany) that has over 100 years of experience in surface treatment – has also developed a machine capable of applying LFF. It says that the PPL300 supports a high degree of automation, which makes it relatively easy to integrate into AM environments.

The LFF technique itself constitutes a response to the special characteristics of 3D-printed metal components. According to Spaleck, the surfaces of such components are often very rough and require a lot of smoothing, but this process has to avoid rounding off a part’s edges. In addition, extremely hard materials like titanium are frequently used, which results in longer post-processing times.

In conventional slide-grinding processes, complex geometries can lead to what’s known as the »cover effect«. Spaleck says its new method keeps this effect to a minimum. In its extensive testing, the company was also able to prove that LFF can reduce the processing time required by a factor of 15 compared to a traditional vibratory barrel-finishing machine depending on the component in question.

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