Software streamlines design, simulation and additive manufacturing

October 25, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
3D printing, or additive manufacturing is currently one of the hottest technologies for rapid prototyping, small-series production – and it enables designers to create objects that were simply impossible to manufacture with conventional methods. The downside is that so far there is a lack of design software that really leverages the properties of 3D printing. Siemens now has launched a comprehensive solution for this type of production.

Through its PLM software branch, Siemens will offer a software that is said to unleash the full potential of additive manufacturing. The product covers design, simulation, digital manufacturing as well as data and process management. Throughout design, test, and production intelligent product models are being used without the need to convert data back and forth between processes and applications. This makes it possible to widely automate the generative design.

In additive manufacturing, frequently organic shapes are generated that a designer normally would invent. The Siemens software automatically makes suggestions for shapes that are optimized for the intended function, with the potential of 3D manufacturing “in mind” – while conventionally educated designers tend to think in shapes and forms oriented at conventional production methods.

Siemens claims that in combination with state-of-the art 3D printing equipment, the new software enables users to completely redefine their product design and lower production cost by optimizing their products for additive manufacturing. What’s more, designers can reduce the number of components of a module or subsystem by optimizing the shape of the components. As a side effect, products manufactured in 3D printing processes frequently feature less weight – at higher stability.  This in turn can create added value for many industries including automotive, aerospace and medical technology.

Hybrid 3D manufacturing

When designers devise their products, they frequently bear traditional production methods in mind. This limits their creativity and spirit of innovation. Today, many parts are indeed still made through punching, deep-drawing, casting or milling. 3D printing enables completely new ways to manufacture things, and the new software is supporting this approach. Integrated Advanced simulation and analysis enables them to calculate the mechanical and thermal behavior of their designs. Among the new 3D-related techniques covered by the design software are Convergent Modeling and topology optimization. Both enable automated designs based on the Generative Design approach. Convergent Modeling enables engineers to adopt mechanical designs to 3D printing and