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Custom-made Products Rely on Additive Manufacturing and Simulation

AM specializes in delivering custom-made parts to consumers. For example, this custom jaw implant helps ensure maximum comfort and strength.

Cookie cutter designs don’t attract the big bucks anymore. Consumers are interested in custom-made products that fit their personal lifestyles.

Satisfying the demand for custom-made products doesn’t come easy. This has led to the rise of additive manufacturing (AM) — or 3D printing. AM makes it possible to cater to today’s fastidious consumers.

For instance, look at the medical field. One-size-fits-all implants aren’t efficient or comfortable for everyone. With AM, you can create customized implants.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to guess which settings will print each part as designed. When printing errors occur, most rely on trial and error to get it right.

Due to the costs associated with each print failure, you should aim to have your designs print right the first time. This is where simulation comes into play.

Additive Manufacturing is Transitioning from a Prototyping Tool to a Production tool

No need to have a warehouse of random parts. Instead, print the parts when you need them in the field.

Currently, you might be using AM as a prototyping tool.

However, companies are using it more and more to customize final products — or parts within final products.

“AM should make strategic sense as part of a larger product development and manufacturing strategy that also includes traditional manufacturing capabilities,” says Brent Stucker, director of additive manufacturing at ANSYS.

Now, you no longer need a warehouse of custom-made parts to react quickly. Did a rare clamp breaks on the assembly line? Print it. Do clients need a custom part in an assembly? Print it.

This is a simplification, of course. Printing a part isn’t as easy as printing a word document. Internal stresses, uneven cooling or improper print speeds may cause imperfections in the print. As printing materials are expensive, the cost of failure adds up when you use trial and error to solve your problems.

Instead, you can use simulation to help avoid these costs and ensure the product’s success.

How Simulation Empowers Additive Manufacturing and Custom-made Products

Simulation helps ensure this complex custom part prints right the first time.

“Engineers can now use simulation to determine not only how their product design will perform under real-world conditions, but also exactly how that design will print on a specific machine,” says Shane Emswiler, vice president at ANSYS.

Newly released ANSYS Additive Suite is a series of tools that extend the functionality of ANSYS Mechanical to ensure your products print correctly the first time.

The tools also help teams work together on the designs, manufacturing and development of custom-made parts. This way, everyone that designs, builds and installs the parts has a say in their development.

“Everyone involved in the production process, from the designer to the machine operator, can collaborate on a common technology platform and share complete visibility into the AM outcome,” says Emswiler.

For more on how simulation enables AM of custom-made products, read Additive Manufacturing Success Through Simulation and Additive Manufacturing: A New Frontier for Simulation.