IPA Use For Additive Manufacturing Post Processing Resin Removal
Generally, 3D printer resin manufacturers recommend isopropyl alcohol (IPA) for washing liquid resins off printed parts. This is not often easy to accomplish. IPA has a flashpoint below room temperature and can be explosive when enough vapor is generated. Because of IPA’s flammability it also needs special storage. Cured resin absorbs IPA and with long exposure, warping of parts can result. This is truer for heated IPA and a good balance between exposure time and temperature is required. Other solvents however do not work as effectively as IPA because they generally require a water wash after resin removal generating additional waste and requiring longer drying times not to mention the higher cost.
The VCN process eliminates all these problems by first processing your parts in a safe nitrogen atmosphere with removal of all air prior to IPA contact with your part. The fully automated VCN process uses heated IPA to ensure a complete and fast resin removal thus limiting parts’ exposure time and preventing parts’ damage. Process times as low as 15 seconds completely remove resin in field units and when longer times (2 minutes is a long cleaning time for the VCN process) are required, IPA temperatures are reduced near room temperature to prevent parts’ damage. The VCN process is very gentle since growing vapor expands rather than creating pressure and moves fluid around inside your part.
The video shows an IPA unit that cleans resin in less than 1 minute. This unit has a separate distillation unit for continuous use of clean IPA each cycle. All units come with vacuum distillation and vacuum drying. The enclosed “airless” process thus recycles all the IPA and produces a clean dry part in less than 5 minutes. Little waste is generated from still bottoms and since little IPA is used, little IPA replacement is needed on site. Talk to us if you are having IPA management problems.