Metal surface finishing solutions provider joke Technology GmbH, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, has developed a fully-enclosed workstation – the ENESKApostprocess – said to allow users carry out the post-processing of additively manufactured components in a cost effective manner, whilst offering the required risk protection.
“We had inquiries from customers for so-called deburring boxes with an extraction system,” explained Max Fielenbach, the AM-product manager at joke Technology. “We quickly had to face the fact that although boxes were indeed available, they were very expensive in combination with appropriate extraction systems – particularly if required to be explosion-proof. We also had to recognise that they nevertheless still failed to offer adequate protection for the user, as the fine dusts were blown out all over the place”.
THE WORLD OF METAL AM TO YOUR INBOX
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
Jürgen Meyer, the Head of Development at joke Technology, stated, “The ENESKApostprocess is a completely enclosed workstation where all the work required after powder elimination can be carried out. This includes removing the last powder residues, separation from the build plate, support removal and deburring, as well as all surface finishing work”.
All the working stages in the ENESKApostprocess are carried out under constant extraction. Only once the station has been closed and activated do the tools begin to function; the machine is then locked until a cleaning process has been completed. During this cleaning process, air showers blow intermittently into the corners of the station for a defined period of time to whirl up any fine dust that may have collected there. This is then immediately extracted.
If installed, the ENESKApostpro FSX – an automatic fine dust measuring system – constantly monitors the dust contamination in the work chamber and outputs the information on the control display. In addition, the station equipped with the FXS is not unlocked until the dust level falls below a predetermined limit value. This is valuable when working with materials that are particularly hazardous to health.
joke offers versions of the ENESKApostprocess suitable for reactive and non-reactive materials. The two variants differ mainly in the extraction systems installed: if the device for non-reactive materials is able to manage with a dry extraction system and three-filter systems to achieve an exhaust air purity of 99.995%, the device for reactive materials requires a wet extraction system and five filter units. In the latter device, the extracted residual powders and dusts are collected in a special oil to render them harmless and bring out oxygen.
A further distinguishing feature is that the FSX automatic fine dust measuring system is integrated as basic equipment in the system for reactive materials.
The work itself can be accomplished with various devices and tools that can be connected in the station. Connections for both pneumatic and electrical devices, especially micromotors, are available for this purpose, whether the device is from joke or another manufacturer.
“Basically, you can imagine the ENESKApostprocess as a workplace that is optimally illuminated and protects you against all the negative influences that can arise when reworking components”, says Fielenbach. “How I organise my workstation and which tools I use is up to me and my personal requirements”.
On-site customer demonstrations
For a few month now, joke has been on the road with a special van in which the ENESKApostprocess is presented at customers’ premises. Whilst the company is touring Europe, there are also demonstration machines in the USA.
Frank Westerhoff, Head of international sales at joke, shared, “It is really satisfying to see how customers react to the presentations. First of all, they are amazed at how the ENESKApostprocess works in the van. After all, it is quite unusual for a company to drive such a station to interested parties’ front doors so that they can try it out on their own premises and on their own components”.
“The amazement at the performance of the station is always the next wow-effect and a real eye-opener. Users, who nowadays do the reworking with either far too little protection or in a full protective suit, can immediately recognise the benefits for themselves,” added Westerhoff.
Protective suits are largely dispensed with
The company expalians that users can do without a protective suit completely when reworking with the ENESKApostprocess. Only if the filter has to be changed, and the system emptied or cleaned, is there any need for such protective equipment, it was stated.
“We have endeavoured to make such work as uncomplicated as possible, but also as safe as possible for the user” says joke development manager Jürgen Meyer. “The aim in developing our ENESKApostprocess was to create a safe working environment, both for the person doing the post-processing and for all those around them. At the same time, the station should provide sufficient possibilities to complete all working stages inside it, with maximum freedom to adapt the workplace to one’s own needs”
The complete extraction unit can be removed with the aid of a suitable lift truck. Both collection containers and filters can be separated and exchanged or cleaned in a few simple steps. Spent filters or collected residues can be eliminated according to the respective disposal regulations. Furthermore, the system automatically reminds users of any maintenance to be carried out.
“Of course, we didn’t get the solution for free,” Meyer admits. “Many conversations with users in addition to well-known AM printer manufacturers were necessary to understand all relevant aspects and requirements and to combine them in the system. This makes us all the more pleased to have been on the road with the device for several months and have obviously struck a chord”.