Industrializing additive manufacturing

What is additive manufacturing? Most engineering executives say it’s rapid prototyping – a perception that needs changing. Anyone can 3D print a part for prototyping for experimentation.

However, the challenge is to use additive manufacturing for more by designing optimized parts that lend themselves to additive manufacturing and printing the first time correctly, repeatably, to reproduce quality parts at volume. Siemens is industrializing additive manufacturing so that a company can design and produce useful parts at scale.

There are four elements necessary to do this:
• digitalize the process from end-to-end,
• design for additive tools inside your PLM system,
• predict and eliminate issues before you print and
• automate not only the design but the engineering and software in production.

Additive manufacturing collaboration – Bugatti

Jumbo jets lift off the ground at 178 miles per hour. However, Bugatti’s Chiron can travel at speeds of 248 miles per hour. The challenge is to keep a tight grip on this speed to push it even further. Innovate in a new way to make a highly optimized vehicle even more aerodynamic and lighter weight.

The engineers at Bugatti take advantage of additive manufacturing to advance composites and innovate new ways to improve vehicle aerodynamics while reducing the weight.

Another challenge: innovate fast. Create a functional design that produces in a series, under 12 weeks. The engineers learned that wind tunnel testing was only capable of testing and simulating the behavior of a car for up to 186 miles an hour. So, they created a digital twin using data from physical road tests, placed this in a digital wind tunnel and explored new design concepts. Active aerodynamics is essential to the performance of a car.

The most notable feature on Bugatti Chiron is the active rear wing: with a fully retractable mode, top speed or autobahn mode, tilt setting for wind flow and the ability to tilt entirely forward for air braking. This rear wing was ripe for innovative design.

Their mission: to design the wing to be leaner via additive manufacturing with thinner walls, titanium parts with the power of design and PLM tools with fully functional system design. They start with the virtual product using digital twin and generative design to create more than brackets – a complete operational system.

With a focus on virtual products via digital twin, you can create new shapes unimaginable to the human brain. The computer generates shapes and architecture that are light-weight with better performance. They took advantage of the technology and tools to add precise features that are usually a result of CAD systems, like faceted bodies.

However, there’s still a need for precise features, or the ability to change the shapes to employ the power of convergent technology. Designing for virtual production creates a plan for manufacturing and automatically establishes the auxiliary geometry and support structures. The simulated build process prints correctly the first time. This method takes it a step further by automating the finishing and post-processing of the parts.

So, the support structures automatically generate tool paths to remove and finish the parts. Then they transition into real production, orchestrating the complete production process includes managing powders, scheduling, the flow of the sub-straights though the system and closing the loop. You can monitor the production environment to understand any issues to address for prints to produce correctly. Then you take that information and feed it back into the design system – the virtual production system – continuing to learn.

The project sponsor for Bugatti, Frank Gotzke, Head of Technologies in the Technical Development Department of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S., was pleased with the outcome. This collaboration requires an ecosystem. Bugatti, the Bonhoeffer Institute and two other companies achieved significant results: accelerating the innovation process by ten times and improving aerodynamics and light-weighting system by 50 percent. The Bugatti relationship is an inspiring one and they are looking forward to future endeavors in pushing the envelope of additive manufacturing.

Siemens Power and Gas – additive manufacturing for serial production

What can you do to improve your product without having to completely re-engineer the machine?

The answer: industrial additive manufacturing to quickly design an innovative approach to produce it at scale, with quality and volume. The entire process or machine can’t be redesigned; however, you can redesign a piece which significantly impacts the overall performance of the machine. Gas turbine engines convert thermal chemical energy into electricity by combusting fuel at high temperatures, creating pressure on blades that spins the turbines.

The challenge: is to produce the most amount of electricity with the least amount of fuel at the highest temperature. However, when you combust it at higher temperatures, you add stress to the system. The critical component to the combustion process is the burner. Optimizing a burner to combust at a higher temperature equates to better cooling rapidly. This results in removing the stress, increasing the electrical output and reducing CO2 emissions – a game-changer for industrial-scale addition manufacturing.

Companies like Siemens are using their industrial additive manufacturing systems across the entire process: virtual product design, virtual production and planning, shop floor and connecting the loopback with the real product.

Burner design with additive manufacturing inside the system

Begin by finding the conventional design within the PLM system, and bring the components into the design environment.

The result is the production of a transformed part that initially had 13 components, to additive manufacturing a single-consolidated component. Moreover, the geometry inside the burner is a complex network of para-metrically controlled cooling channels that lend themselves to 3D printing. Also, further optimization is created with lattice structures connected to the cooling system, contributing even more to heat dispersion, keeping the burner cool during the combustion process. It can now burn at a higher temperature more efficiently.

Design print-ability checking tools enable the ability to monitor the design throughout the process. They are pinpointing overhangs or walls that are too thin, troubleshooting design problems upfront before sending a file to print, thus alleviating errors to the final product. These tools allow improvements to the managing of the entire design process and the digital twin while saving significant time.

Design for additive manufacturing – powerful tools

Industrial additive manufacturing supplies a breadth of robust additive design tools: topology optimization, multi-objective simulation (enhancing performance of the system), lattice structures and convergent modeling. It’s a holistic approach to generative engineering to give you the capabilities to create powerful designs.

Once you have the design and move into production planning, it’s essential to move to a first-time-right printing process that is automating with repeatable quality. Then you take this design as input in the same systems to design the build tray or print volume. This process allows for the easy creation of support structures that are associated with the design using:

• integrated technology,
• defining build strategies to simulate the build process to get that first-time-right print and
• eliminating issues before printing.

We can identify distortions, overheating that can be targeted before printing errors and having to scrap your costly parts. It’s important to be able to manage the relationships between the design, the process plan and create the technical data packages to send to the shop floor or to share with your supply chain.

The most critical capability for industrializing additive manufacturing is to build process simulation. Many companies will print three to five parts to be able to see which process is going to work best. This process takes time, money, people and equipment. The primary printing problems are usually issues with distortion, warping, overheating and recoder collusions. Siemens is addressing all these issues.

With additive manufacturing, one can predict the geometry of where the program will distort and automatically compensate for it, adjust the model and reconnect the supports. Then rerun the simulation, and it either gives the desired results, or it will compensate and simulate again to get the proper shape. Siemens is following this methodology with their machine OEM partners, Materials partner and customer to collect information about the production environments to build simulation engines.

To scale production, you must automate. With an industrial system, it can orchestrate the entire process, from managing the schedule to the operations, recycling the powders and the movement of the sub-straights through the system.

Siemens invests in monitoring the following production processes: taking images of powder layers, centering and feeding those into a system, combining operators and machine learning to detect anomalies and understanding the impact of quality. The system is taught to identify defects on its own so that it can identify and notify when something out of the threshold is needing resolution.

Automating the production environment

At the facility in Finspang, Sweden, an AGV with a robot tends to the non-value add activities on the shop floor, like vacuuming powder residue, to free up operators.

With additive manufacturing, once the parts are complete, there’s the need to automate the post-printing process for support and removal of part finishing operations and inspection.

By industrializing additive manufacturing, you can rapidly realize an innovative, quality burner design at serial production. It’s exciting to see what Siemens Power and Gas will innovate next.

A vibrant ecosystem of partners, working in concert with software, hardware and automation propel additive manufacturing to a new level – continually innovating.

Learn more from the IMTS AM Conference video.

This concludes part two in a continuing series on the impact of additive manufacturing to the industry. Look for future blogs in this community on forecasting the future of additive manufacturing – where today meets tomorrow.

About the author:

Aaron Frankel is with the marketing team at Siemens PLM Software and focuses on part manufacturing solutions. He has been in the PLM industry for over 15 years and enjoys helping companies apply innovative technology solutions to design and manufacturing challenges.

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