Estimation of production costs for composite 3D printing

At the end of January 2021, e-Xstream engineering, part of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, introduced new simulation and virtual manufacturing capabilities that allow users to analyze the production costs associated with additive production of polymer parts over conventional processes and continually improve their virtual engineering processes by verifying microstructure. composites using CT scanning of manufactured parts.

Additive production from composites is becoming increasingly popular on the market because it makes it possible to automate the formation of stronger and lighter parts than metalworking processes and to adapt the base material to the given purpose (eg fiber composite using “endless” fibers). The latest version of Digimat allows companies to simulate the 3D printing process and calculate the total cost of production of each part, including material consumption, employee time, energy and required post-processing steps.

With this new tool, the engineer can gain a comprehensive view of the production process and product finalization and identify best practices for the production chain. Crucially, batch optimization can also be used to print as many parts as possible in parallel, which increases production capacity and shortens lead times. It can also be used in production planning to assess the total cost of owning machines and amortize those costs over projected production volumes. This information is visualized for users using drawings and pie charts. Cost reduction can thus be easily analyzed for different scenarios.

Global demand for composite 3D printing is projected to grow to 2030 by 1,7 mld. USD. However, its deployment has so far been limited due to technical obstacles. Because the orientation of the fibers in different areas of the part changes, this has a significant effect on the mechanical properties. Knowledge of this information can help engineers solve quality problems and significantly improve the accuracy of property prediction. Manufacturers can now perform a CT scan of the part and import a 3D RAW image to create a finite element model of a two-phase microstructure (such as a carbon fiber reinforced polymer) in Digimat software and simulate its behavior. When a designer inserts this validated material model into his CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) tool, he can perform analyzes that take into account variations within the part being manufactured. It is thus possible to reduce the amount of material used or to prevent damage at critical points.

Combining physical measurement with virtual testing also increases the accuracy of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) processes when implementing a new material system. The behavior of the part can be compared with the simulated process in order to validate and certify the material model. CT scan validation also helps material experts refine microstructural models they have created manually to improve the accuracy of future simulations.

As they improve new manufacturing processes, users can record information about the part, material, 3D printer, or processes used and their physical tests while working with material lifecycle management. Software Ma­te­ri­al­Cen­ter e-Xstream engineering captures a traceable and verified database of these trusted material properties for use in the product design phase. With material lifecycle management, information can be easily documented in multidisciplinary teams and shared across the organization so that authorized users can reuse valuable knowledge.

Predicting the behavior of the material in the microstructure on which the CT scan was performed is a computationally demanding process. For example, analyzing complex behavior, such as creep, can take several days when calculated using only a traditional processor (CPU). By optimizing these processes for graphics processing units (GPUs), some tasks can now be performed interactively by the engineer, as the results are produced in a matter of minutes. Comparative tests show that the time required to analyze the stiffness of the material is reduced by 98%. This short computing time, combined with the introduction of a command line interface, also allows Digimat finite element models to be used in automated optimization workflows based on high-performance computing platforms in the cloud.

In the production of highly stressed composite structures, as components for the aerospace industry, the PFA (Progressive Failure Analysis) model makes it possible to define the safety limits of the structure and make optimal use of expensive materials and processes. The latest version of Digimat software performs these complex analyzes of the Camanho model twice as fast, allowing a parametric study to be performed to define defect tolerances and maximize production yields.

More information at www.e-xstream.com.


Source: Aktuality – 2D a 3D CAD Design Software by www.cad.cz.

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