Siemens’ integrated design-to-manufacturing software for additive manufacturing

This month, Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) business will start rolling out its comprehensive design-to-manufacturing software for additive manufacturing (AM)/3D printing. It marks the beginning of a new generation of manufacturing capabilities, says the company.

The new solution will use smart product models through all phases, without the need for conversion or translation between applications or processes. The solution will enable automated generative design using new topology optimisation capabilities that often result in organic shapes that would be difficult for a human designer to conceive of, and which are impractical or impossible to produce with traditional manufacturing techniques.

The software will include: Siemens’ NX software, an integrated computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE) solution; the newly announced Simcenter portfolio, a robust suite of simulation software and test solutions; Teamcenter software, the world's most widely used digital lifecycle management system; and Simatic IT Unified Architecture Discrete Manufacturing and SIMATIC WinCC, two elements of Siemens’ recognised Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) portfolio for production execution and manufacturing automation.

Two of the new technologies that enable automated generative design are ‘Convergent Modeling’ and topology optimisation. Convergent Modeling, which was announced with the latest release of NX, is claimed to be the first technology of its kind. It will help engineers optimise part design for 3D printing, speed up the overall design process and provide scan-to-print functionality, which makes reverse engineering more efficient. It is a brand new “modelling paradigm” that greatly simplifies the ability to work with geometry consisting of a combination of facets, surfaces and solids, without the need for time-consuming data conversion.

Topology optimisation, another new technology, will help analysts automate the iterative process of designing and optimising parts for “multi-physics performance”, including vibration, fluid dynamics and heat transfer. Siemens says that the integrated simulation and predictive engineering analytics capabilities help evaluate the design for manufacturability, so as to provide greater confidence in progressing with designs optimised for additive manufacturing.

In addition to these new technologies, Siemens is also introducing a new 3D print preparation solution for both metal and plastic parts that will use the same smart product models from the design and simulation phase to help automate design changes and streamline the entire process.

The new solution assists operators in preparing parts for powder-bed and multi-jet fusion printing. For 3D printed metal parts, NX provides model preparation for laser metal deposition and NC programming. This includes simulation for hybrid additive machine tools, where metal deposition is incorporated with subtractive methods in a single machine tool environment.

For extruded materials, such as plastics and carbon fibre reinforced nylon, a new multi-axis robotic fused deposition modelling (FDM) programming technology has been developed and is being field tested.

After parts are printed, the same integrated NX system is used for post-printing NC operations, such as intuitively programming the removal of support structures, machining of precision surfaces and other processing and inspection operations.

Explains Siemens: “Designers are trained to create parts with traditional production technologies in mind, which can limit creativity and innovation. Today, production parts are either stamped, moulded, cast or machined. By providing engineers and designers with a completely new way to design and manufacture parts, Siemens is helping them reimagine the next generation of products. Companies can create unique, better performing designs with significantly increased strength/weight ratios and apply advanced integrated simulation and analysis technology to predict design performance. This new transformative technology will help increase design innovation.”

The new set of offerings will help companies fully leverage the benefits of the latest AM technology, according to Joachim Hoedtke, CEO, Hoedtke GmbH & Co. KG, an innovator in AM and Siemens customer: “In order to make additive manufacturing a true industrial production process, manufacturers need to have seamless digital integration across design, production and automation, including control and monitoring of machine performance. Siemens is bringing together multiple software tools with new technologies focused on additive manufacturing to help companies accomplish this goal.”

Adds Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO, Siemens PLM Software: “This is just the beginning of a new generation of manufacturing capabilities, and Siemens is focused on delivering software technology to support an optimised end-to-end process with tools such as Convergent Modeling, topology optimisation and 3D print preparation that are developed specifically to industrialise additive manufacturing. Siemens continues to invest in innovation and work with technology partners to develop new solutions to drive advances in additive manufacturing capabilities to make the 3D printing of production parts a reality.”

Says Dr Ken Versprille, executive consultant, CIMdata: “Siemens PLM Software is pushing the additive manufacturing envelope by developing solutions to help create functionally optimised geometry that is inconceivable, based on conventional design and manufacturing methods. Previously unsolvable design and manufacturing challenges are now quite feasible with these new software and production technologies. Siemens PLM Software has a vision for how the technology fits together from end-to-end and is putting that vision in place to move the industry forward.”

See related presentation at last year's TCT show at link below