Additive manufacturing, which is more commonly recognized as three-dimensional (3D) printing, has rapidly advanced over the last several years to allow a wide variety of companies to quickly produce working prototypes according to the specific designs provided by the manufacturer. Aside from plastic being the primary 3D printing material, a number of other materials including metals, cements and even glass have been incorporated into 3D printed products. The relationship between 3D printing and heat treatment is equally beneficial, as the heat treatment of 3D printed projects has been shown to dramatically increase the strength and stiffness of certain 3D printed parts, whereas the 3D printing of heat treatment parts can be advantageous in the manufacturing process and subsequent properties of the 3D printed parts.
Heat Treating 3D Printed Products
Since practically all 3D printed materials exhibit surfaces that are near net shaped, there is a zero tolerance for contamination on any surfaces, which thereby requires temperature control during this process to remain at 2° F. By combining heat treatment processes with 3D printing, manufacturers are able to directly thermocouple the pieces they are producing while also improving the specific characteristics of the product being produced.