With the promise of endless possibilities for new structures, designs, and materials, Additive Manufacturing is currently in the uber-hyped mode. Not a week goes by without a new AM technology emerging or a new AM deal signed. Last year, the U.S. Air Force awarded $6 million to Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop standards for rocket parts made by AM. SpaceX received $33.6 million to develop the Raptor rocket propulsion system to be manufactured primarily using AM. General Electric announced that it would spend $1.4 billion to acquire two European 3D printing companies, and the list goes on.
Additive Manufacturing is opening the door for the creation of all kinds of new materials. In powered bed metal AM processes, for example, simply mixing two different metal powders together in varying proportions before feeding the powder into the printer, allows manufacturers to create their very own customized alloys. With plastics and composites this process can arguably be even more diverse. Yet, we are still far off from AM becoming the next industrial revolution.
While additive manufacturing of reinforced polymers is appealing and increasingly considered for production of actual parts, major obstacles must be overcome by engineers. Dimensional accuracy of the part must obey to strict tolerances that may not be met due to thermally induced part distortion or poor surface roughness. On the material side, an anisotropic material behavior is brought in by the specific 3D printed layered architecture and oriented reinforcements. This process-induced material behavior make the part mechanical response challenging to predict.
Therefore, Digimat, the material modeling platform, can offer you a solution to overcome your challenges.