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Autodesk Creates Design-to-Print Workflow for HP and GE 3D Printers

Additive manufacturing, 3D printing, GE additive, HP, Autodesk, Fusion 360, HP multi jet printers
Autodesk has designed an end-to-end workflow that takes generative design structures into HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers. Autodesk is also developing the same for GE Additive machines.

With new additive manufacturing machines hitting the market from HP and GE, Autodesk is ramping up generative design software that works directly with the new printers. The company has developed a comprehensive design-to-print workflow for additive manufacturing—based on Autodesk’s Netfabb and Fusion 360—that connects Autodesk generative design technology with HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers.

Autodesk has created design software tools to deliver generative designs to HP multi-jet fusion printers. (Image source: HP)

The goal is to streamline the conversion of digital design to physical part. The workflow is designed to increase accessibility to rapid prototyping to accelerate production-ready 3D printed parts. Autodesk is also collaborating with GE Additive to create a design-to-print workflow to bring end-to-end generative design to GE 3D printing machines.

3D Printing Reaches Production Value

At the heart of the design-to-print workflow and the HP collaboration is the build-out of production-based 3D printing that delivers feasible, cost-effective additive manufacturing. “The HP multi-jet fusion printers are changing the value equation when it comes to 3D printing for production. The plastic printers are now becoming cost-efficient versus injection molding for part counts in excess of 10,000 parts,” Robert Yancey, director of manufacturing industry strategy at Autodesk, told Design News. “The new metal printers promise to have similar value benefits compared to metal injection molding. HP is helping move the additive manufacturing market from prototyping to production applications.”

The shift in 3D printing production comes from the capabilities of the new machines and materials. “HP multi-jet fusion printers promise higher volumes and higher customization than plastic printers that have been in the market for some time,” said Yancey. “To unlock the full value of HP MJF printers, you need a good design, a good material, and a good print process. Autodesk develops the design tools and technology, HP develops the print process, and HP with their material partners develops the materials. All aspects are required to achieve maximum efficiency.”

Proving out the Workflow

Penumbra Engineering, a generative design company that is a customer of both Autodesk and HP, was recently enlisted by a client to design and additively manufacture a new state-of-the-art ultrasonic sensing device that delivers the accuracy and durability to withstand use in extreme environments. The company used Autodesk generative design and HP Jet Fusion technology to meet stringent performance requirements while producing a design that is lightweight and balanced enough to ensure proper stability and ease-of-use in the field.

“The Penumbra case study uncovers the value of HP working with Autodesk generative design technology,” said Yancey. “We’re supporting HP printers in Fusion 360 and Netfabb so that HP multi-jet fusion customers have the design and print prep tools they need. We’re working with HP to provide support for the new metal printers they recently announced.”

Building out a Workflow for GE Additive

Autodesk is also working with GE Additive to simplify metal additive manufacturing. The companies have agreed to collaborate on an integrated workflow for GE Additive machines. Based on the Fusion 360 platform, the workflow will connect all phases of additive manufacturing—from design and simulation to printing processes and machine analytics.

Autodesk is developing design-to-print tools for production using GE Additive printers. (Image source: GE Additive)

Autodesk is using GE Additive software algorithms, interfaces, and specialized data models to offer predictive insights. The workflow is also designed to provide cost and timeline projections in the early stages of design so that design engineers can make engineering and business decisions without first having to physically produce the parts. “Working with Autodesk will provide a powerful design-to-print environment for our customers, helping lower the barriers of additive adoption while accelerating a customer’s time to first good part,” said Lars Bruns, software leader at GE Additive in a statement.

One-Stop End-to-End Workflow

For GE, the goal was to develop a complete end-to-end workflow for the GE Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) systems within Fusion 360. GE and its customers presently have to use multiple software products and multiple data formats to go from concept to printed part. “The GE and Autodesk collaboration has the goal of providing a single platform and environment for users to conceive of a part design using Fusion 360, which includes generative design,” said Yancey. “The platform will simulate that design, print the design, and capture all of the relevant print data to store with the design file so we have a single source of truth for each printed component.”

GE will also share preliminary cost data to generative design studies so users can compare cost variations between the options, versus just engineering and weight variations. “This will significantly increase the value of generative design by giving users an environment to quickly assess both engineering and business tradeoffs for the many options generated,” said Yancey.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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