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Additive Production Process Simulation Software for Additive Manufacturing of Metal Parts

Editor: Janina Seit

Simufact Engineering has introduced a new software solution for the simulation of additive manufacturing processes for metal parts with Simufact Additive.

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Simufact Engineering has introduced a new software solution for the simulation of additive manufacturing processes for metal parts with Simufact Additive.
Simufact Engineering has introduced a new software solution for the simulation of additive manufacturing processes for metal parts with Simufact Additive.
(Source: Pixabay / CC0 )

Simufact Additive is a scalable process simulation environment that enables the "first time right" optimization of powder bed melting processes. The software simulates all process steps of additive manufacturing: starting with the printing of the part, followed by heat treatment, cutting of the part from the base plate, removing the support structures and heat and pressure controlled processes (hot isostatic pressing, HIP). The first version of Simufact additives determines distortions and residual stress of 3D printed metal parts, further functions are to follow.

Software Compensates for Distortions and Minimizes Residual Stress

The modeling is carried out on the basis of CAD data in a newly developed graphical user interface (GUI) which mirrors the real process flow. The intuitive approach of Simufact Additive reaches from the general process description with the definition of the part and the support structures to the definition of the manufacturing parameters up to the calculation settings and to the final results. The software helps to compensate for distortions, minimize residual stress and optimize process parameters.

“Nowadays, companies using AM technology for printing metal parts have to cope with errors in their production processes and considerable follow-up costs," says Michael Wohlmuth, CEO of Simufact. “Simufact Additive is a tool that will help these companies to 'make it right' by performing regular simulations before the manufacturing process.”


New Infrastructure for Simulation

The concept of the software forms the basis for a broad variability and scalability ensured by different levels of detail. These include a fast mechanical method for predicting distortions and residual stress up to fully coupled transient thermomechanical analysis, which will soon be supported as well. In this way, the temperature profile and derived properties such as the microstructure can be determined.

The properties of the finished part are available for use in subsequent structural calculations. Dr. Hendrik Schafstall, CTO Simufact, says: "As the technical heart of the software, we have developed an application-specific solver based on the powerful FEM-solver Marc from MSC. Simufact Additive will map the complete process chain in the production environment and execute the simulation as detailed as the user requires. The most important criterion is accuracy — the second is speed. That is why we have developed a completely new infrastructure specifically for AM."

Graphical User Interface (GUI) Concept for AM Modelling

Simufact Additive offers an intuitive and user-friendly GUI. The flexible GUI concept enables machine- and application-specific dialogues that mirror the real process. Thanks to the included networking possibilities, even large and complex structures of any shape can be discretized quickly and automatically. The GUI is designed to handle such networks, which can easily contain more than one million elements, without any problems. “When we started with the GUI concept for Simufact additives, we decided to start from scratch, be open-minded and provide the environment for new ideas," explains Dr. Patrick Mehmert, Product Manager for Simufact Additives.

“The simple usability of the software was our most important goal. The user should be able to use the software quickly and set up an analysis in just a few minutes. It should not waste time by requiring the user to search for dialogs in complicated submenus. The simple user interface only needs a few icons and buttons. Context dialogs are available by clicking with the right mouse button. We are convinced that Simufact additives provide an exceptionally positive user experience."

Collaboration with Suppliers of 3D printers

Renishaw plc, a leading manufacturer of advanced metal AM systems, is the first 3D press manufacturer to work with Simufact on an integrated approach. The common goal is a complete simulation-based optimization that leads to a print file of the highest quality. First of all, Renishaw's Quant AM print preparation software is coupled with Simufact's process simulation software to enable data exchange. For this purpose, the open API (programming interface) of Quant AM is used. The next step is to automatically set up a simulation based on the layer structure information and, in return, to display the simulation results in Renishaw's Quant AM print preparation software.

This article was first published by konstruktionspraxis.

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