3D Printing Analysis within NX.

When you take a part out of the CAD tool and send it to a 3D printer, it will print that shape closely to what you have in CAD. The problem is, especially with metal components, when you heat up the powder with the laser or other such mechanisms, the temperature of that material is very high. It shrinks as it cools and depending on the geometry that you have of your shape it can cause warpage and cracks. It’s akin to the reverse engineering of plastic within a mold. You need to take shrinkage and weld marks into account, and there are good tools out there for that, but it’s a little more complex because your 3D shape isn’t just the design geometry, there are supporting structures to make sure it’s feasible to actually make the part.

When thinking about this from an engineering physics perspective, this is a very complex transient heat transfer analysis and structural analysis that is coupled with structures because heat is going to transfer out into the powder. It can actually help cool it off faster or it can hinder the cooling of it. Heat transfers into the supporting structures for the component making this far more complex than reverse engineering thermal analysis with a couple of structure analysis.

Because of this, Siemens, with their simulation and test capabilities, have made lots of acquisitions over the past few years, bringing together different components of that to make this more accurate and to run these analyses with higher fidelity. They’ve been able to develop a picture of how a component will cool off and shrink and warp over time. That is what they take and reverse engineer, not the whole thing at one temperature and shrinking all at once.

It’s a very interesting and very powerful capability. This is very different from what NX typically produces. This is an interesting new capability to do 3D printing and reverse engineering analysis in order to help their users get a more accurate model or part.