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Simulation and design in additive manufacturing
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Simulation and Design

TWI uses numerical modelling and computer simulation to refine additive manufacturing (AM) designs and processes before fabrication begins, helping you create the right part first time.

The goal of our numerical modelling activities is optimisation. Optimising the process, by using modelling to accurately prediction where stress and distortion will occur, and optimising the design, by removing mass from a part where it is not needed.

Our focus on these two areas – process simulation and topology optimisation – means you can be confident that both the design of your part and the method of its manufacture have been made as efficient and effective as possible.

Process simulation: predicting residual stress and distortion

Our numerical modelling team has lent its expertise to the development of many codes and standards, including BS7910, R6 and ISO/TC XYZ. By applying this knowledge to AM processes, we can advise on how stress and distortion will affect parts being manufactured using powder-bed, powder-fed and wire-fed AM techniques.

We use Abaqus finite element analysis software to perform additive manufacturing process simulations for the prediction of residual stresses, distortion and microstructural evolution – identifying potential problems before fabrication begins and saving you time and money.

We are also working towards incorporating metallurgical models into our process simulations, enabling the prediction of phase concentrations and tensile anisotropy caused by part build orientation and process parameter selection.

Topology optimisation: creating lightweight parts

Topology optimisation is a mathematical approach to optimally distributing material within a given design space under prescribed loads and boundary conditions – essentially, adding strength where it is needed, and removing weight where it is not.

We can work with you using this approach to either optimise your existing part designs or design entirely new components. 

Topology-optimised designs are often impossible to manufacture using conventional methods, but the design freedom enabled by AM allows the creation of fully optimised parts. Once the topology of a part has been optimised, our numerical modelling team can then optimise its shape, to smooth features and reduce stress concentrations, and sizing, to ensure any struts or fixing holes are ideally sized.

Extensive research has allowed us to develop expertise in multi-objective optimisation, optimising design with respect to stress- and displacement-based constraints, multiple static load cases and nonlinear material properties. We are also exploring ‘robust’ topology optimisation, developing failsafe designs that are insensitive to uncertainties in loads and material properties.

Contact us to find out how we can help.