Autodesk acquired Moldlow last year and clearly is injecting digital firepower into the simulation software company founded by Colin Austin in Australia in 1978. Simulations are now delivered more than two times faster with a parallel architecture using NVIDIA Quatro FX 4800 and Quatro FX 5800 GPUs, says Hilde Sevens, senior product line manager for the Manufacturing Solutions Division of Autodesk, San Francisco. One of Autodesk’s goals is to improve accuracy of cavity simulations by providing better 3D mesh analysis. Moldflow will also be better integrated with Autodesk Inventor and other CAD models. The improvements are contained in the Autodesk Moldflow 2010 release demonstrated at the National Plastics Exposition this week in Chicago. One of the company’s big goals is to make Moldflow part of the design process at the very beginning. Many designers now use Modlflow to verify a design prior to cutting a mold. The idea is to save time and money, says Sevens. One strategy is to encourage more use of Autodesk Moldflow Adviser, a simplified and less expensive tool than Insight. Release 2.0, scheduled for next month will beef up digital prototyping options.
Meanwhile, Moldflow continues to expand its capability to test compounds, both commercial and proprietary. Simulations are developed in part from actual materials testing. Moldflow has a database of more than 8,000 commercial grades and a separate highly guarded database of more than 4,000 formulations developed for specific customer applications. A current focal point is developing improved simulation capability for long glass-fiber reinforced systems due to increased effort to cut weight in cars. As of now, there has been little customer demand for simulation of biobased materials. That may change, however, as big resin producers, such as DuPont and BASF roll out bio grades.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
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