Simufact Additive is a powerful and scalable process simulation environment for ‘right first time’ optimization of laser powder bed fusion processes. Features include simulation of all the key AM process steps starting with ‘printing’ of the part; followed by heat treatment, cutting the part off the build plate and removal of support structures, plus heat and pressure combined processes (HIP). The initial release of Simufact Additive will predict the final distortion and residual stresses of metal 3D printed parts; future functional enhancements will introduce additional features.
The modelling is carried out using CAD data in an innovative and newly developed Graphical User Interface (GUI) environment aligned with the real process work flow. Simufact Additive offers an intuitive approach which starts with defining the general process by determining the part and support components through to definition of manufacturing parameters up to the analysis settings and ultimate results. The software helps to compensate the distortion, minimize residual stresses and optimize the process parameters.
‘Today companies employing AM technology for printing metal parts have to cope with failure in their production processes and the high knock on costs associated with this’ Michael Wohlmuth, Simufact`s CEO, points out. ‘Simufact Additive is an important tool which will help these companies get it ‘right first time’, by regularly running simulations prior to production.’
The concept behind the software is that it lays the foundation for a wide variability and scalability through different levels of details. This includes both a fast mechanical method for the prediction of distortion and residual stresses up to a fully thermo-mechanically coupled transient analysis which will be released soon. This will determine the temperature history and derived properties like the microstructure. The properties of the final part are available for a subsequent structural simulations.
Simufact`s CTO Dr. Hendrik Schafstall, says: ‘For the technical heart of the software we developed an application-specific solver based on MSC’s powerful generic Marc solver. Simufact Additive will be able to capture the complete process chain in the manufacturing environment and to scale the simulation based on the user requirements. The key driver is accuracy followed by speed. Therefore, we have developed a completely new infrastructure specially dedicated to AM.’
Simufact Additive comes with an intuitive and user-friendly GUI. The flexible GUI concept allows machine and application-specific dialogs aligned with the real process work flow. A meshing capability is included for the automatic and rapid discretization of even large and complex structures of any shape. The GUI is laid out to smoothly handle these meshes that can readily reach more than a million elements.
‘When we started with the GUI concept for Simufact Additive we decided to start from scratch, to be open-minded and give space for new ideas,’ Dr. Patrick Mehmert, Product Manager Simufact Additive, explains. ’Ease of use was our key objective. The user should be able to use the software quickly and to set up an analysis in just a few minutes. Users should not spend their time searching the dialogs in complicated submenus. Therefore, the user interface is very tidy and comes with fewer icons and buttons than expected. At the same time contextual dialogs are available via right mouse clicks. We are convinced that Simufact Additive provides an exceptionally positive user experience.’
Renishaw plc, a leading manufacturer of advanced metal AM systems, is the first 3D printing machine vendor to collaborate with Simufact in the common goal of an integrated approach. The aim is a fully simulation based optimization leading to the best quality build file. Initially, Renishaw’s QuantAM build preparation software will be coupled with Simufact process simulation software and enable data exchange, using QuantAM’s open API (application programming interface). The next step is to automatically set-up a simulation based on the build information and in return to display the simulation results in Renishaw’s QuantAM build preparation software. The first results of this collaboration will be published and showcased at the major European additive manufacturing show, Formnext 2016, Frankfurt, this November.