Additive Manufacturing Technology

Characterization

AM Part
Additively manufactured parts with support structures (Source: NTT Data Engineering)

Additive Manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing is an emerging manufacturing technology. AM technology allows for the direct transformation of digital data into a physical product. At first sight the Additive Manufacturing process chain may look very short and simple: Computer Aided Design (CAD) software is used for describing a physical object. The digital data is transferred to a special 3D printer which directly produces the part.

But what sounds lapidary causes many challenges

There are various printing technologies available. What they have in common is that they all build 3D objects by adding material either layer-wise or by deposition along a path. The diverse printing processes are based on different materials (sand, solid or liquid plastics, numerous metals) and different methods for building the layers (e.g. lasers or electron beam for melting / fusing / sintering of metal powder).

Metal Additive Manufacturing on the advance

Fields of application

Photo RenAM 500M
RenAM 500M - laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing system (Source: Renishaw)

The fields of application for Additive Manufacturing are manifold – here we focus on industrial usage of Metal Additive Manufacturing (Metal AM).

Metals are the fastest-growing segment of 3D printing. Metal AM is increasingly being used to fabricate end-use products for

  • Aerospace Industry & Suppliers
  • Automotive Industry & Suppliers
  • Machinery (e.g. Turbines, Special Machinery)
  • Medical implants (Dental, Orthopedic)
  • Handling and Robotics
  • Lifestyle & Sports (e.g. Jewelry, Biking)
  • Custom Parts (e.g. Classic Car Parts, Surgical Tools)

 

Aerospace & Defense companies are the No. 1 Early Adopters for AM technologies – they are the first ones to move ahead from small research projects to large scale production runs. Airbus, GE, Norsk Titanium, Alcoa, and others have already started with series production or are investing in large manufacturing facilities for AM.

The Automotive industry is employing 3D printing since years for Rapid Prototyping focused on preproduction single test parts or complete visualization models. Leading automotive manufacturers are experimenting with utilizing AM technology. First fields of application may be small series or individualized production.

Manufacturing Quality

Typical challenges in Metal Additive Manufacturing

Companies employing metal 3D printers for additive manufacturing have to face many challenges.

 

 

Challenges from a business point of view:

  • High hourly machine costs (due to machine acquisition and power costs)
  • Relatively high material costs
  • Machine availability: Experimental testing on the machines reduces the productiveness

 

Additively manufactured parts on a build plate
Additively manufactured parts on a build plate - without support structures (Source: Renishaw)

Challenges from a technical point of view:

There are various influencing factors on the additive manufacturing process with different significance, such as

  • Different production methods and their special physics
  • Different 3D printers and their machine-specific influence on the production process
  • Differing metal powder quality

A very high number of machine input parameters (up to 200) is involved in AM processes, all having an impact on the achieved behavior of the final parts. Prior to producing the parts you have to answer questions like

  • What is the best support structure strategy in terms of location and properties?
  • What is the best build-up orientation?

Complex physical interactions cause an inconsistent quality of the produced parts. 

Non-optimal part design for manufacturing leads to

  • Incorrect produced or even failed parts (cracks), due to
    • Distortion
    • Residual stress

Simufact Additive - our solution

How we can help you solve these issues

Simufact Additive is a powerful and scalable software solution for the simulation of metal-based additive manufacturing processes.

Simufact Additive helps you produce AM parts first-time-right:

  1. Calculate the deformation of the final part and reduce / avoid distortion
  2. Minimize residual stress
  3. Optimize the build-up orientation
  4. Optimize the support structure
  5. Condition the part also after heat treatment, base plate and support structure removal
  6. Reduce material and energy consumption costs
  7. Increase machine and manpower productivity while reducing unnecessary costs by replacing tests with simulation

In the future also

  1. Predict the microstructure
  2. Indicate criteria-based part failure

 

Read more about

Simufact Additive