Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Topology Optimization | Altair
Metal additive Manufacturing process, additive manufacturing technologies

Additive Manufacturing

Just a few years ago, additive manufacturing (AM) was purely associated with rapid prototyping, research projects, and advanced engineering teams. Now many organizations are looking to AM as a production solution. To some this means manufacturing parts through an additive method, to others additive is essential for the creation of timely tooling. Altair provides software that goes beyond the creation of unique prototypes and provides a robust simulation toolchain to support production designs.

TCT & Altair

AM for Production

TCT Magazine and Altair set out to understand the industry’s desire and readiness for series production using additive technologies. Here's what we found.

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Production parts designed with topology optimization and additively manufactured with metal additive manufacturing

Topology Optimization

The distinctive organic looking parts that many consider a trademark additive manufacturing (AM) aesthetic, are created through a process called topology optimization. Altair OptiStruct™ is the original topology optimization structural design tool. While some are still discovering how this technology can help designers and engineers rapidly develop innovative, lightweight, and structurally efficient designs, for over two decades OptiStruct® has driven the design of products you see and use every day.

Design for additive manufacturing 3D printing software

Simulation-driven Design

Advanced engineering simulation has traditionally been employed as virtual testing of a mature design. A task performed late during product development, just before building a physical prototype. Organizations mature in their digital transformation use Altair simulation technology early in the design process as part of concept design. To enable this shift, a new category of software has been created developed to accelerate design decisions.

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Manufacturing Simulation

For Additive Manufacturing: Altair Inspire Print3D can cut product development and AM costs by reducing material usage, print times, and post processing. It provides a fast and accurate toolset for the design and process simulation of selective laser melting (SLM) parts. Engineers can quickly understand changes to process or design that effect manufacturing efficiency, then export part and support structure geometry to major printer preparation software for printing. It also simplifies the identification and correction of potential deformation, delamination, and excessive heating issues before building a part.

For Traditional Manufacturing with AM Tooling: It may not make sense for parts to be designed for additive manufacturing, but it might work for its tooling. Additive methods are being aggressively applied to the manufacture of cores, forms, and molds, in addition to production jigs and fixtures. The reduced fabrication time means that tooling lead times are shorter, and the storage of physical tools isn’t required. Altair has tools to simulate many manufacturing methods.

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Elegant Solutions

Applied Across Industries: OptiStruct uses topology optimization to develop optimized structures by considering design parameters like expected loads, available design space, material, and cost. Embedded early in the design process, it enables the creation of designs with minimal mass and maximal stiffness. Topology optimization allows you to find the best material distribution for your traditional or advanced manufacturing process and compare designs.

Applied Early in the Process: Altair Inspire™ brings OptiStruct into a new user experience encouraging more early application of topology optimization. Both tools consider multiple manufacturing constraints, including symmetry patterns, draw direction, cavity avoidance, overhang angles, and extrusion. Topology optimization allows for fast design exploration, improved development productivity, and identifies opportunities for part consolidation.

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Higher Performance

Lattice Structures: A unique capability of 3D printing lies in its ability to manufacture hollow shapes with complex external geometry using tiny cells known as lattice structures. OptiStruct now extends topology optimization to support the combination of solid and lattice structures. Lattice performance can be studied under tension, compression, shear, flexion, torsion, and fatigue life.

Thermal Efficiency: Hydraulic valve blocks, turbine blades, heat exchangers, and injection molding tooling with conformal cooling channels are improved by Altair AcuSolve™ and Altair HyperStudy™. The parametrization is directly done on the simulation model with the morphing capabilities of Altair HyperMesh™. With this approach, the simulation lead time is cut down to a minimum, variants can be assessed quickly, and innovation is driven by automated optimization processes.

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