A brand new startup has emerged from stealth mode promising a software program able to aiding designers in enhancing their elements for additive manufacturing (AM) in ways in which transcend generative design and topology optimization. Additive Stream’s newly introduced FormFlow software program is supposed to permit engineers to rapidly modify their fashions for AM in ways in which maximize their efficiency traits alongside quite a lot of standards.
Based in 2017 Alexander Pluke and Charles Fried, Additive Stream is made up of a crew of synthetic intelligence and structure specialists. Its FormFlow software program is supposed to assist within the parametric design of elements for AM by permitting customers to outline a number of parameters to optimize a printed object by way of geometry, course of and materials.
As an example, customers can concurrently simulate a mannequin demonstrating bodily properties equal in all instructions (isotropic), in addition to with bodily properties maximized within the vertical and horizontal instructions (orthotropic). It will then inform the course during which a component is printed, sideways or standing upright.
The mannequin can be simulated as produced from totally different supplies. Different particulars the software program can generate embrace productiveness, price, and efficiency outcomes based mostly on design and course of suggestions. As Additive Stream describes it, FormFlow “places the fitting materials, with the fitting properties, in the fitting place.”
Within the design of a bridge with Royal HaskoningDHV and DSM, Additive Stream generated designs that have been isotropic and orthotropic, printed upright and sideways. The ensuing design was seven occasions lighter than a stable object, with the orthotropic solvers bettering efficiency by 20 % in comparison with an isotropic mannequin. Additive Stream additionally labored with Royal HaskoningDHV to ascertain a repeatable workflow for performing mannequin optimization in a shorter time period.
By together with all of this info, FormFlow appears to transcend typical generative design instruments. Typical generative design software program generates quite a lot of design choices based mostly on such traits as weight and the power to hold a sure load. Nonetheless, these instruments could not account for the anisotropic properties of 3D printing, during which the vertical axis is weaker than different axes. In flip, relying on the software program, the printed geometries could not carry out as simulated. Additive Stream describes the solvers inside its software program, nevertheless, as “additive conscious.”
Designing for additive isn’t any simple process. In fact, that is coming from somebody with completely no CAD expertise, past some free and open supply instruments. Nonetheless, even skilled engineers don’t essentially know what it takes to make a design proper for 3D printing. Partially, it’s because manufacturing engineers have lengthy been taught to prepared their concepts for conventional manufacturing applied sciences.
This implies maintaining in thoughts sure constraints, similar to limiting complexity so as to cut back the price of molds and minimizing defects or integrating the gate location in injection molded merchandise. In some ways, engineers need to unlearn a number of design options they take without any consideration with historically made elements and change them with an entire new set of design options.
Whereas FormFlow doesn’t appear to deal with the whole lot that somebody would want to know so as to start making use of AM to their product design apply, it might make attaining high-performance, 3D printable designs simpler. As an example, Evonik’s new software program is ready to decide if a number of elements would make good candidates for 3D printing within the first place. It will even be useful to have a software program that may robotically flip a multi-unit meeting right into a single printable object. Nonetheless, as soon as these design choices are made, FormFlow might additional optimize their geometry for the very best efficiency in the very best materials.
FormFlow actually appears to have some advantages over present generative design software program, similar to Netfabb from Autodesk and Siemens NX, which don’t present as a lot info as FormFlow appears to in the mean time. Nonetheless, these CAD builders are a lot, a lot, a lot bigger, so there’s no telling when Netfabb or Siemens’ Frustum kernel will have the ability to provide the identical capabilities. Who is aware of, perhaps we’ll even see Additive Stream snatched up by some CAD large within the coming years and even months.
For the time being, Additive Stream is taking FormFlow to market on a venture consultancy foundation, with the software program personalized relying on the shopper’s wants. The corporate plans to ship a license mannequin for its software program later this yr.
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