What I love most about my job at Simufact is that innovation stems from the many bright minds within our company. This makes my heart beat faster, really! Ok, you are right. Dealing with and loving technical developments in FEM-based process simulation software requires us to be a bit nerdy. So you may call me a nerd – no objections, I am fine with that.
Yesterday, a colleague showed me a presentation he shared at the Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace (AMA) Conference in Bremen, Germany. His presentation explained new capabilities in our software solution, Simufact Additive and how to calculate and optimize the 3D printing of metal parts so that you manufacture the parts accurately ‘right first time’ – skipping the trial and error phase.
One of the main quality issues that companies are facing have to do with distortion in the printed parts due to thermal effects in metal 3D printing. Distortion make parts run out of the specified tolerances, which may lead to build abortions in the 3D printer or non-correctable deviations – both worst case scenarios. If a million dollar printer is occupied with printing parts and the outcome after 20 hours is simply unusable, you may understand where an engineer’s headaches come from. This is one of our focus areas: supporting AM engineers to accurately predict the outcome of the 3D build process, virtually. We replaced the trial-and-error process by using simulation.
Back to distortion. Since version 1 released in 2016, Simufact Additive has been providing functionalities to identify distortion – this was the first step. In addition, we built another functionality to help engineers reduce distortion with a compensation method. The engineer goes through a distortion compensation process with several iterative steps, which takes time. The steps include running a build simulation, identifying distortions, compensating the distortion, re-running the simulation with new parameters, evaluating the results, go on to the next compensation, and so on.
Meanwhile, we went a step further. We developed an automated distortion functionality which replaced all manual steps with an automated compensation process. Simply define a threshold and let the software do the rest.
The outcome was terrific: Within a short time, our automated distortion compensation process provided optimized geometries within tolerances. And we are not talking about tolerances of 1 mm, I mean tolerances lower than 0,01 mm!
Another Example – The Classical Bracket:
- Shape deviation after first iteration step
- Shape deviation after five iteration steps
I regard Simufact Additive’s automated distortion compensation functionality an innovation that is extremely beneficial for the user. Simufact Additive predicts the distortion and residual stresses in the part and guides the engineer in how to compensate to ensure a quality part the first time. Process control variables may be selected to optimize the 3D printing process to reduce time and waste.