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.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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