And you’re right; there are few important things to know more about the additive manufacturing technology, if you’re seriously planning to develop products through this technology in near future.
Software for Rapid Prototyping:
In general, printing a part require 4 different software to ensure accuracy, reduced cost and quality. Also, special software packages are also required to convert solid geometries to lattice structures along with tools to perform simulations.
The journey from idea to the additive manufactured final part begins with sourcing the model either through rapidly growing 3D libraries or through 3D scanning techniques or through custom designs. This is followed by the design process where an exact 3D model of the product is prepared that will be printed, considering proper dimensions and geometrical accuracies. The next step is to optimize the geometry using software to suit the printing process and reduce material wastage. Finally, the software is also required to actually print the part and monitor the process to make print runs successful.
CAD Modeling Process:
As an example, products to be printed in plastic would require the dimensions of the holes in the design to be resized, as they would expand or contract during heating and cooling applications. Also, the geometry to be printed has to be thoroughly inspected for any open spaces and must be converted to “watertight”, to avoid errors in printing.
To summarize, Right from sourcing the model, through designing and optimizing to monitoring printing process, the role of software is important across every step in the prototype or product development. Modeling methods require a good knowledge on the printing process, material to be used and the printing technology adopted.
Moreover, the need to optimize the design and apply lattice structures instead of solid geometry should be considered to reduce material consumption while maintaining the required strength of the product being developed. Successfully implementing rapid prototyping to gain the benefits of cost reduction and faster development schedules require manufacturers and engineers to adopt right processes and software technologies.
As such, 3D printing technology isn’t as easy as it seems. There’s so much more to it than simply creating a CAD model and pushing the print button.