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Software Simulations and 3D Printing

Less failures, lower costs, and better understanding of the 3D printed result

Software simulation is delivering impressive results in the 3D printing industry. Designers and engineers get the benefit of software simulation, as it allows them to handle any problems that come up before printing. The result is less failures, lower costs, and an understanding of the physics behind the manufacturing or printing of various products.

What is Software Simulation?

Software simulation is the visual demonstration of how a product would be printed by a 3D printer – and the resulting characteristics of that product. These simulations show the entire thermo-mechanical phenomena that take place while 3D printing occurs.

3D printing is a lot cheaper than traditional manufacturing, on average. But printing high-value components using state of the art 3D printing equipment is expensive. Having to get rid of a defective print or repair a printer that was damaged because of a bad printing job, is very expensive. Companies are always attempting to save money where they can.

Simulations of 3D printing are very accurate and detailed. They can show a designer or engineer every step of the printing process. They also show the detailed result of the 3D printing process, layer by layer. Process parameters are adjustable to get different simulations, which is a useful way of ironing out errors in the process.


How Does Simulation Help 3D Printing?

When the average consumer thinks of 3D printing, they imagine smaller items being printed out. For instance, they may think of a plastic fork or a small cup being printed out. However, the commercial 3D printing space is churning out many different types of products. Some are used by major companies, the military, medical facilities and the aerospace industry.

When high-value components are being created using 3D printing, the costs and stakes are often very high. While failure at being able to 3D print an item costs less than typical manufacturing failures, it is still a cost. Software simulations help to prevent that cost. A simulation is run and any errors that might occur are immediately spotted.

Now engineers and designers have the chance to correct those issues. Perhaps the physics is not working when it comes to 3D printing a specific part. Maybe the wrong printer is being used, or a smaller tweak is needed. It is very efficient to spot these issues before physical printing. It avoids print failures, which can take up a lot of time and raw materials.

By reducing post-processing operations, boosting manufacturing speed and reducing any possible deformations in the printed product, software simulation is taking the 3D printing industry to new heights.


Commercial 3D Printing and Software Simulation

The aerospace industry has a big interest in 3D printing. When 3D printed parts are incorporated into existing aircraft, they can reduce the overall weight while maintaining the same structural integrity. Printing parts is also faster and less expensive than traditional manufacturing.

When parts are tested and printed for the aerospace industry, they often have flaws. For instance, a 3D printed part may have a metal deformation while it cools. It is up to designers and engineers to understand why this is happening, and how they can fix the issue. Software simulation is a big aid, as it replaces the need to constantly print out new versions of that part until they no longer have the flaw.

At a factory in the Netherlands where dddrop 3D printers are manufactured, a company managed to shave off a vital 2mm from their 3D printer’s bodywork. It may not seem like a huge difference, but it was a crucial part of reducing the printer’s footprint while still maintaining the same printing mechanism. The company used simulations to achieve that result.

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