AM process simulation software, a helpful tool for designers

To produce parts in additive manufacturing (AM) out of metal powders is not a push-and-play technology. Due to the specific thermal history of parts, there are numerous causes of part distortions, even a production crash in the worst cases. Software solutions come in handy here...

Due to the thermal history the internal stresses might be so high in an inappropriate design that the support structure itself could break or delaminate, letting the part bend up in an unexpected way, out of the allowed geometrical tolerances.

AM is well-known for its ability to process very complex designs, to reach the requirement of critical applications where each gram gained is valuable. Unfortunately, whatever the technology, making a part without process considerations often leads to a dead-end. AM is not different compared to any other technology for this. The experience of experts provides some basic and efficient design rules to deal with the physical aspects and reduces the risk of failure. But they are always applied on simple geometries such as bars, holes, flat planes, … which are quite easy to control. But it is not the same story with a real, complex part, mixing plenty of configurations.

As always, when empirical methods fall short due to complexity, software solutions appear. Some companies such as Autodesk, MSC Software, GE (via Geonx), Materialise (in collaboration with Simufact) or AdditiveWorks propose AM metal process simulation software which is already commercially available. Those allow designers to see where the risky zones in a given geometry are and they give rough first results in 2-3 hours and up to 8-12 hours for finer details. Of course, this also depends on computer power. With this knowledge in hands, the designer can improve iteratively his concept, taking all the factors into account thanks to the simulation software without spending time and cost linked to actual production of a potentially not suitable design.

Sirris has started the use and benchmark of these solutions during the past year. This will allow its customers (designers as well as service providers) to access this relatively new technology first on a few cases, to better learn the potential without the need for an investment in a proprietary license.

Discover our findings with these simultion software solutions during the launch of our 4.0 Made Real Pilot Factory in Liège on 7 November!

This article is part of our ‘4.0 made real by Sirris’ campaign, illustrating the feasibility of 4.0 technology in industry. Want to know more? Visit our 4.0 Made Real page or LinkedIn page!