AMT announced a very unusual smoothing system that fits on a desktop.
AMT produces a line of industrial post processing equipment that use advanced algorithms to produce highly consistent part finishes. Typically their equipment has been targeted at operations with significant part throughput, where managers seek ways to reduce the labor to complete parts.
The new PostPro SFX uses much of the same technology, but it’s packaged in a small unit that’s quite suitable for desktop installation. AMT explains:
“The world’s first bench-top vapor smoothing system, utilizing our cutting-edge green chemistry, PostPro Pure. Compatible with engineering plastics, the system produces a high quality vapor smoothed surface finish even in office environments.”
What is “vapor smoothing”? It’s a process used for certain polymers in which a suitable solvent is vaporized in a chamber. The vapor evenly collects on the surface of a 3D print, where the solvent slightly softens the surface. This process can eliminate layer lines created during printing, as well as seal up small cracks and crevices in the surface.
After vapor smoothing, you might not be able to tell that a part was 3D printed because the surface will be completely smooth.
AMT’s vapor smoothing process uses a solvent that is apparently eco-friendly.
The chamber on the SFX is small, only 190 x 320 x 190 mm, 11.5 liters in total. However, this is sufficiently large to process a great deal of small to moderately-sized parts.
For now, the SFX is able to smooth parts made from PA12, one of the nylon materials. They say their system is compatible with PA12 prints made using FDM, FFF, SLS, MJF, HSS and SAF 3D printing processes.
Why such a small device? Don’t manufacturers want large scale post processing capabilities? They do want that, and AMT does provide larger equipment for that purpose. However, the SFX seems to be addressing a very different market: prototyping.
There are large and increasing numbers of PA12-capable 3D printers in the world, and many of them are being used to make prototypes or very small batch runs. All of these operations might benefit from the installation of a PostPro SFX unit to make their parts perfectly smooth.
AMT said the SFX is the only unit of this size on the market, and as such it’s likely they may sell quite a few into that market. Sure, the manufacturing market is bigger, but in the prototyping world there aren’t any small options other than the SFX.