In order to take 3D printing to a production level and use it more widely, modelling software for materials, manufacturing and part performance are crucial. Software that simulates material behaviour makes 3D printing easier for end users. “Then trust will arise and users will come by themselves”, says Roger Assaker, founder and CEO of e-Xstream engineering, who is organizing a user conference in Bordeaux next week. In the opening session he will focus on the 10 x ICME Solutions.
e-Xstream engineering presents
10x ICME solution at user conference
Roger Assaker co-founded e-Xstream engineering back in 2003 with the aim of developing modelling software for materials. There are now several software solutions, including specific solutions for 3D printing, and e-Xstream engineering is part of Hexagon. In the AM industry, Digimat, the software to digitally model materials in a 3D printing proces, is one of the best-known systems in the portfolio for polymers with colleagues from Simufact focusing on metallic materials.
How dominant is the role of simulation software in additive manufacturing at the moment?
Roger Assaker: “The hype curve shows that the same hype exists around additive simulation software as with Artificial Intelligence (AI). As if all this is going to determine everything. The simulation software does not become that dominant. What our software helps with is the optimization of the sweet spot for the combination of material, application and AM process. We help companies with a set of tools with which they can make the right decisions.”
Three target groups
e-Xstream focuses on three stakeholders, as Assaker labels the target groups. On the one hand, these are the material developers, who use the modelling software to optimize their materials before they go into production. The second group are the printer OEMs, who can use the software to quickly optimize the printer parameters for specific materials and certify processes. “We help them with repeatability.” The end users are the third group that e-Xstream focuses on. “For the end users, we make additive manufacturing a controllable technology; we help the engineers to print a good part immediately. In addition, they can find the right combination of material and 3D printer, depending on the part.”
Virtual Printing: first time right 3D printing
This is done with Virtual Printing (e.g. e-Xstream Digimat), which simulates the material behavior during printing, e.g. warpage in FDM or SLS printing. Virtual Printing can also be used to compare the behavior of different materials during 3D printing. Virtual Printing is also useful for end customers to maximise the properties of the workpiece by playing with the position on the building board or in the print bed and the printing parameters. For example, if you make multiple parts in one build, how do you position them? Roger Assaker: “Not only for optimizing the packing in the build chamber, but also to get the maximum performance of the materials in the workpiece. We want to make sure that we eventually print the right properties, because they are needed for both prototypes and functional parts.”
10x ICME modelling software solution covers entire AM value chain
During the opening session of the user conference Roger Assaker presents this 10x ICME Solutions, where the abbreviation stands for Integrated Computational Material Engineering. With ten modeling solutions e-Xstream covers the entire value chain: from material development, through Lifecycle Management to simulating the 3D printing process and the use of the digital twin. For this development, the company works closely with both material and printer manufacturers.
To what extent are the other parties willing to collaborate on this software?
Roger Assaker: “The ecosystem is reasonably well developed. In the meantime, everyone can see the benefits of working with others; they understand that partnerships are needed. However, the motivation for the cooperation comes mainly from the end customers in automotive and aerospace. They ask us if we can simulate certain materials and 3D printers. We have a strong collaboration with e.i. Stratasys. The end customer can use the digital twin of the Fortus 900mc and the material data to simulate printing with Ultem 9085. In this way, we are working together with more partners like Ultimaker, for example. With DSM, Arkema and Solvay, for example, on the materials side.”
The software is particularly attractive for high-end applications. How does Ultimaker fit into this list?
Roger Assaker: “The focus is indeed on high-end applications, but that doesn’t really matter. Ultimaker has an interesting platform and we see that high-performance materials are also being developed for these printers. That’s why we work with them. Our platform is open to others. We want to ensure that additive manufacturing becomes mainstream manufacturing technology. If we can make it easier for the end user and there is confidence, more users will come naturally.”