The flexibility of Additive Manufacturing opens up new opportunities for creating more efficient designs with short production runs. However, trial and error is often required before the parts can be printed successfully, which limits wider adoption of Additive Manufacturing. IHPC has developed a fully in-house software platform for simulating Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF), one of the most popular metal Additive Manufacturing processes. In LPBF, parts are built up layer by layer using a laser that scans across the surface of the powder bed with sufficient spot energy to melt the metal powder under its path. Once each layer has been scanned, a new layer of powder is added and the process repeats until the part is completed.
IHPC’s Additive Manufacturing “Digital Twin” uses advanced physics models that accurately simulate this process for a variety of printers, materials and printing conditions. The detailed predictions obtained reduce the chance of unexpected printing problems. For instance, the powder scale module of the AM Digital Twin predicts the melting and re-solidification of the individual metal particles in the powder and can predict the mechanical properties and potential defects. Fig 1 shows a simulation of a small region of powder being melted on the powder bed and indicates the location of this on the actual powder bed.
Fig 1. IHPC's Additive Manufacturing "Digital Twin" simulates melting and solidification of the metal powder