3D Printing is one of today’s hottest technologies, enabling anyone from engineers to enthusiasts to create intricate plastic models of just about anything that can be designed by a computer. 3D Printing consists of two types of thermoplastics: ABS and PLA. ABS is a more durable plastic used for the object mold itself, and PLA is used as a mold support, supporting the ABS plastic until it dries. The PLA plastic is then removed to produce the final “printed” object.
Some types of PLA can be removed with water and a surfactant, and decent results can be achieved using solvents and an agitating tank. However, the best and more thorough method is via cavitation formed by ultrasonic waves. The sound waves easily reach into all surfaces of the object, no matter how small or intricate the mold may be, clearing off PLA plastic without affecting the underlying ABS plastic that forms the intended molded object.
Many 3D-printed objects must be completely clean of PLA support or they will not work as designed. For example, artificial knees or teeth must be cleaned perfectly, or they may cause dangerous complications for the patient. Only ultrasonic cleaners can clean away PLA support structures and leave behind the pristine molded object.
Omegasonics’ ultrasonic cleaners gently remove PLA support structure materials from ABS, Polycarbonate, Nylon 12, PCABS and other thermoplastic types, providing thorough cleaning with even very intricate parts. Furthermore, ultrasonic cleaners are less expensive than recirculating tank-style washers, are easy to use, and require very little setup or training.
How do Ultrasonic Cleaners Work?
Omegasonics’ cutting-edge ultrasonic cleaners use electric generators to create high-frequency sound waves in water. As these waves travel through the water, tiny vacuum bubbles form and repeatedly implode upon any surface they encounter, an effect called cavitation. Cavitation releases enormous amounts of energy at microscopic levels, removing even the tiniest dirt particles. Cavitating bubbles reach into grooves, cracks and hidden crevices more effectively than alternative methods, cleaning them more thoroughly than solvents and other harsh chemicals could ever do. Furthermore, ultrasonic cleaning technology only uses water-based soaps and solutions for a “greener” cleaning approach.
Plastic Absorbs Ultrasonic Waves
Getting the right wattage in your tank matters, especially when it comes to plastics. Unlike metal, which can easily reflect cavitation bubbles off its hard surfaces–even at lower wattage levels of ultrasonic waves, plastics absorb larger amounts of ultrasonic energy. This means that lower wattage tanks may not achieve the desired result. Balancing the proper amount of ultrasonic energy with the audible noise they create is the trick. While it is true that more ultrasonic power will clean faster, it will also create more ambient noise. Operators using these devices in an office environment may not tolerate the higher dB levels.
Ultrasonic Cleaning of 3D Printed Molds Means Faster ROI
Companies that choose ultrasonic cleaning of their 3D printed molds experience faster and more thorough cleaning. This translates to faster production and saved money and time for workers. Where before, parts would have to be cleaned by hand or inspected carefully after being agitated and then perhaps cleaned again, printed molds can be loaded into an ultrasonic cleaner, left to clean, and collected later. This means that employees previously engaged in cleaning and inspection of parts can now be reassigned to other revenue-generating activities.
Labor and money saved translates to a quick ROI (Return on Investment) for the expense of purchasing ultrasonic equipment–good news for purchasing managers! Companies that have purchased ultrasonic cleaners from Omegasonics have later returned to buy more after discovering their ease of use and benefit to their production line. In some cases, production time from concept to client has been moved up 24 hours!
Your company has invested a lot in 3D printers–for maximum ROI don’t skimp on the PLA cleaning part of your production cycle. Call us at 888-989-5560 or email us at email@example.com