The TCT Show in Birmingham, England draws to a close today, but it’s been a packed few days with lots of new product announcements and presentations. One of those announcements came from Materialise, which introduced its new simulation software for metal 3D printing. Simulation software allows manufacturers to run through a build before running it for real, identifying trouble spots and reducing the risk of a failed print. On average, 15 percent of metal 3D prints fail, which can get extremely costly. Simulation creates a virtual prototype so that the first print can be the final print.

Simulation often requires expert engineers who work closely with manufacturers and designers, but Materialise’s simulation software requires no expert knowledge. It’s easy to use and accessible to anyone. Rather than needing engineers to give input about things like optimal part orientation and support structure design, the software offers that input, and users can apply the results directly to the support generation and orientation tools in a Materialise Magics environment, with which the simulation software works closely – it’s available, in fact, as a Magics module.

The software can be used on a standard workstation without the need for high-end processing power, and can be used in combination with other computer-aided engineering (CAE) solutions for highly certified metal production. The module also includes an integrated calibration feature which guides users to the correct simulation settings for their metal 3D printer.

“As more companies adopt 3D Printing as an alternative manufacturing technology, service bureaus are operating in a more cost-competitive environment than ever. As a result, they are looking for ways to scale their operations, increase productivity and reduce overall costs,” said Stefaan Motte, Vice President and General Manager of the Materialise software division. “Software, and especially simulation software, will help drive down the primary cost. Our software suite will enable greater access to simulation capabilities and help increase productivity and efficiency.”

The Materialise 3D printing simulation module is based on an OEM version of the Simufact Additive Solver, a powerful, scalable software tool for the simulation of metal 3D printing processes. The module combines the simulation expertise of Simufact with the familiar environment of Materialise’s data and build preparation software. The software is available immediately; Materialise also plans to release its Magics 23 software by the end of this year.

For companies that produce a large number of metal 3D printed parts, such as service bureaus, simulation is an invaluable tool. Any mistakes can be made in a safe environment, costing no money and wasting no time – and in metal 3D printing, errors are likely to happen, so simulation provides a way for those errors to be seen and addressed before the 3D printer is ever fired up. Simulation can be intimidating and complex, however, with multiple factors to address, which is why the expertise of experienced engineers is often required. Materialise’s new software takes away the intimidation factor and allows anyone to take advantage of the benefits of simulation, saving time, money and immense amounts of frustration.

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