Why use simulations in 3D printing?
Simulating the 3D printing process is very valuable, because it helps to:
Avoid print failures and parts rejected for geometric issues, saving time and reducing overall cost.
Evaluate the risk of production and give pointers to mitigate the probability of failure.
Understand the physics of the manufacturing process.
Predict the microstructural characteristics of the end part.
Optimize production to improve manufacturing speed, reduce post-processing operations or improve accuracy by reducing the part and support deformation.
You can perform the simulation before or after generating the support structures:
Before support generation, simulation results help identify critical areas of significant deformation or internal stress during manufacturing. The designer can then add adapted support structures to minimize the deformation, change the print orientation to change the areas of heat accumulation or modify the geometry of the 3D model to improve the quality of the end result.
After support generation, simulations help minimize the risk of production failure (for example due to recoater interference), ensure that the dimensions of the final part lie within a specified tolerance range and evaluate the impact of different print parameters (for example, by comparing parameters optimised for production versus parameters optimised for accuracy).
In both cases, simulations aid in reducing the risk associated with high-value manufacturing and to improve the productivity of high-volume 3D printing, saving weeks of production time and thousands of dollars in development and production costs.