Simulation Tool Aims to Correct Additive Manufacturing Distortion

Siemens has integrated an additive manufacturing process simulation tool into its Simcenter simulation platform.

Siemens has developed the additive manufacturing process simulation solution, Simcenter 3D Additive Manufacturing (SC3D AM), to predict distortion during 3D printing. The product is integrated into Siemens’ end-to-end additive manufacturing solution, which is designed to assist manufacturers in designing and printing useful parts at scale. The simulation tool builds on both Siemens' digital innovation platform and the Simcenter portfolio.

Siemens PLM, additive manufacturing, simulation, 3D metal printers, generative design

The additive manufacturing process simulation can determine the distortion or shrinkage that occurs through the heat involved in 3D metal printing. (Image source: Siemens PLM)

The simulation tool uses a digital twin to simulate the build process prior to printing, anticipating distortion within the printing process and automatically generating the corrected geometry to compensate for these distortions. The distortion correction is important for constructing a first-time-right print. It’s a necessary part of gaining the efficiencies required of a fully industrialized additive manufacturing process, according to Siemens.

Based on Individual Materials

When metal parts are 3D printed, the method used to fuse the layers of the print typically involves heat. As the layers build up, the residual heat can cause parts to warp inside the printer, resulting in various problems—from structural issues within the part itself to print stoppage. These issues cause many prints to fail, making a first-time-right print very difficult. Simulating the printing process helps to alleviate many of these problems.

Simulations from the SC3D AM tool are designed to overcome the distortion and shrinkage that occurs with particular 3D printing materials. “SC3D AM is designed to predict distortion based on an enhanced inherent strain method. The material parameters for simulation are calibrated based on a printed test specimen,” Ravi Shankar, global director of product marketing for Simcenter at Siemens PLM, told Design News.This allows users to test different materials in the simulation. Each material that is used in the simulation is calibrated to get meaningful and high-quality results. Siemens provides a set of materials with the installation. The material definitions are stored in the tool's material database.”

Specific Printers and Generative Designs

The simulation also takes into account whether the object will be produced by a printer from Markforged, EOS, HP, GE, or some other printer. “SC3D AM gives the user high flexibility in defining the process parameters. A combination of printer and material can be defined and stored in the database,” said Shankar. “For the process parameters, information like layer thickness, recoating time, hatching distance, and much more are defined as well as laser properties. This allows the user to specify printer-specific properties and therefore take into account if an object is printed on different printers with different process parameters.”

Siemens PLM, additive manufacturing, simulation, 3D metal printers, generative design

The additive manufacturing process simulation can determine whether generative-designed metal parts retain their full functionality through the printing process. (Image source: Siemens PLM)

SC3D AM can also accommodate the generative design (GD) process, so new and unusual design structures can be simulated to determine whether the design will retain its structural integrity through the printing process. “The process simulation can be executed on the results of a generative design process. Typically, GD processes generate faceted models to represent bionic shapes easily. The faceted data can be directly used in the process simulation without any geometric reconstruction,” said Shankar. “Additionally, printer-specific constraints can already be defined during the generative design process. Wall thickness constraints can be defined, and the optimizer can search for design proposals that have as few supports as possible for a predefined print direction.”

The Siemens AM process simulation tool is expected to be available in January 2019 as part of the latest NX software and Simcenter 3D software.

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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