defense giant Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) has partnered with software leader hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEX B) to launch a revolutionary metal additive manufacturing process simulation software solution that helps predict thermal history (or heat flow) and defects at the scan vector and powder layer (meso) scale. As Hexagon’s Global Business Development Manager Jeff Robertson described, “the solver will run part-level simulations in minutes – far faster than existing solver technologies.”
Combine Hexagon technologies Industrial Intelligence Polethat enables customers to leverage data, and Raytheon’s engine company, Pratt and Whitneythe new software predict defects before the costly and time-consuming printing process begins. This analysis will help designers and engineers to evaluate the printing result and test combinations of materials, geometries and printing processes.
The new simulation tool promises to end some of the challenges of metal additive manufacturing processes that can become very expensive. Defects such as keyholes, lack of fusion, ball formation and surface roughness are some of the issues that the software has overcome.
Commenting on the partnership with Raytheon, Robertson suggested that together the two companies “will provide an intuitive and accessible tool that will help engineers predict and quickly mitigate risk. The ability to evaluate fully Laser Powder Bed Fused (L-PBF) parts at the meso scale will reduce efforts to achieve part certification and thereby support the industrialization of metal 3D printing.
Preparing to discuss the details of the upcoming software, the Hexagon team – led by Robertson – will be at the ASTM International Conference on Additive Manufacturing (ICAM) which started on October 31 and will run until November 4, 2022. After the event, the software will be made available to a range of companies engaged in additive manufacturing. It will complement Hexagon’s existing offer Simufact Additive Tool, a scalable software solution for virtual testing and process design for optimizing metal-based additive manufacturing processes, such as L-PBF and Metal Binder Jetting (MBJ). Additionally, the similarity to the existing user interface will allow for easy integration into existing manufacturing processes by users without requiring extensive training, Hexagon said.
Some of the 800 commercial companies, universities and research institutes that use the Simufact Additive tool for simulated manufacturing are automotive OEMs such as Audi, Daimler, Jaguar, Porscheand volkswagenTier 1 providers like Bosch and magna as well as other highly specialized customers from the aerospace sector, the shipbuilding industry and medical engineering.
“By combining our expertise in additive manufacturing with that of Hexagon, we are bringing to market a solution that helps manufacturers of all levels of experience build better products with greater efficiency,” said David Furrer, principal researcher at Pratt & Whitney for materials and processes.
Early detection of design issues in the additive manufacturing process can be a game-changer for parts made with metal additives. Other companies have also been involved in the development of simulation software. For instance, Stratasys recently acquired quality assurance software company Riven and integrated the software into its GrabCAD AM platform to help customers automatically inspect, diagnose and correct discrepancies between CAD files and printed parts. Creating more precise parts is also on the agenda for companies like Metal deskwho started a collaboration with Siemens last October to use its Advanta software to simulate all levels of the binder jetting process and overall plant planning.
With simulation software verifying, simulating and optimizing programs before they hit the shop floor, companies are eager to implement them to make additive manufacturing more feasible and sustainable. Additive manufacturing teams producing printed metal parts can ensure that software simulation will drive their design and production processes, changes that could save customers time and money.
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