At Graphite Additive Manufacturing, we offer further finishes on our parts to enhance the properties of our materials. This article will explain the secondary finishes and additional operations that we have to offer and how they are most effectively applied.
In addition to our primary finishes, parts can be treated further in one of our several different processes: Thermal Post Cure, Vapor Smoothing, Hand Sealing, Painting, Metal Plating and RF Shielding. Much like our primary finishes, each additional operation is designed to achieve something different and we can help you to decern which is the right process for your application. A few of the processes are only applicable for certain technologies or materials, and we will cover this in the individual entries.
Thermal Post cure
Thermal Post Cure is a process used to strengthen and toughen our SLA ceramic-resin material, PerFORM. By putting the material through a thermal cycle after manufacture, the part becomes 15-20% stronger (in both tensile and flexural scenarios) and ~15% tougher too. It enhances the material in other properties also, such as the materials resistant to heat, increasing the Heat Deflection Temperature (at 0.46MPa) by over 100%, from 132oC to 268oC. Typical applications include wind tunnel test parts, tooling for injection moulding and other high temperature applications.
This chemical process has multiple benefits. As the name suggests, it can take your parts to the next level of smoothness giving our high-quality parts a slick, glossy finish to match. In addition to this, Vapor Smoothing is a great way to seal parts and make them oil and water tight. This process is applicable for materials manufactured using the SLS and MJF technologies. Typical Applications include: underwater applications, injection moulding prototypes, hand held devices and visual components on dashboards or central consoles. This is a process we are offering to perform on 3rd party parts, as well as those manufactured in house if desired.
Hand Sealing is a manual process in which it is necessary for some of our materials, namely Graphite SLS and Carbon SLS, to undergo in order to be water and oil proof. This is a tried and tested method, developed in-house, which leaves the materials suitable for under bonnet uses and seafaring missions alike. Typical applications include wire loom guides, engine baffles and yacht components such as those seen in our case study on the racing boats of the F50 League.
Graphite AM has produced many display models and show exhibits over the years and many of these required a paint job and decals worthy of the event. Be it a base coat, two-tone or more, we are able to provide a part to the specification you require. Typical applications include showpieces and automotive interior parts.
A few microns of metal can be applied to the surface of our parts should you wish to have a metallic finish or require the properties it provides. The metals available are Nickle, Copper, Chrome, Silver & Gold. These can be finished in a variety of ways too, including brushed, shiny, high gloss, satin and pearlescent. On top of purely being aesthetically pleasing, metal plating can be used to stiffen and strengthen applications that are required to be thin and inherently weaker geometries. Typical applications include stiffening thin wind tunnel pieces and making a part electrically conductive.
Radio Frequency Shielding
Similar to metal plating, parts can be plated in a material that blocks radio frequencies (RF) from penetrating the wall. This can be applied to one side or both sides or potentially just one area of a component to shield delicate internal electrical systems from RF disruption or damage. Typical applications include casing/housing for sensitive electrical components in handheld devices or unmanned/remote robotics.
If you would like any more information on our secondary finishing options, please get in touch with a member of the team.