Simulation is more than Software

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Step by step to an optimal product

High component quality through 3D print simulation in Additive Manufacturing. From topology optimization to process simulation.

Simulation software for 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing

Ansys software supports you in the production of high-quality AM components. Optimize your process parameters to minimize distortion effects and achieve an ideal design.

Improved AM manufacturing processes and design

Explore and evaluate the various possibilities of the AM manufacturing processes by using simulation. Identify the critical points of components and, thus, avoid waste by early adjustments to the component design or the printing process.

Introduction to 3D printing

In recent years, 3D printing has been discovered by the industry and has become a real area of interest. Additive components are not only used in the automotive and aerospace industries; small and medium-sized companies are also increasingly relying on additive manufacturing. The advantage is obvious: prototypes as well as production parts can be manufactured within a very short time - usually within a few days - without the manufacturing of expensive moulds. The integration of many functions into one component or the combination of entire assemblies into one additive part can also save a lot of time and money during the entire process chain.

Estimated Market Growth until 2023
for Metall Additive Manufacturing (Source:

Metal 3D printing is a manufacturing method of components mainly made of powder by adding layers of tiny welding tracks (hatches). With this method, geometries can be created that are impossible to be produced conventionally or only at great expense.

Simulation for Additive Manufacturing

An important factor for cost-efficient additive manufacturing is the use of simulation software. Since incorrect prints can quickly become critical for any budget because of expensive machine running times, it makes sense to use simulations during product development to identify the critical points of the component regarding the printing process. Waste can be avoided by early adjustments to the component design or the printing process. With its simulation tools, Ansys offers the user support in optimizing the Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) and ensures reduced development and production costs.

Reduction of Weight
by simulation

Topology optimization

With topology optimization the shape of a component can be optimized considering its mechanical properties.


For example, it becomes possible to design lighter components without losing stiffness. Topology-optimized lightweight components are often used in aerospace, automotive and other areas of mechanical engineering. Ansys' topology optimization offers fast calculations, a high selection of possible boundary conditions as well as surfaces that require only a minimum of post-processing.

  • Objective definitions: e.g. stiffness, weight, material
  • Lightweight construction - lighter component with equal or higher stiffness
  • Integration of functions
  • Manufacturing constraints can be taken into account during optimization
  • Fast calculation and easy to use surfaces without extensive post-processing

How to manufacture a topology optimized metal component?

For high component quality, it is necessary to carry out several steps carefully in data preparation. It starts with the optimal component position in the 3D printer, followed by the attachment of support structures required in metal 3D printing, and, finally, the simulation of the print job in order to avoid sources of error such as extensive stresses, distortion or coating collisions. Finally, the 3D data can be exported into a 2D layer data format.

  • Orientation
  • Support structures
  • Distortion (incl. Predistortion)
  • Stress
  • Export into layer data format

How do I determine the optimal process parameters for metal 3D printing?

Process parameters precisely matched to additive materials are the key to ideal 3D printing. Only the right combination of laser power, laser speed and hatch distance guarantees success. With simulation software from Ansys, expensive investigations with prototypes can be minimized. Methods such as single bead, porosity, thermal history and microstructure prediction are used to determine optimal parameter combinations in advance.

CADFEM – Your Simulation Partner

With over 35 years of simulation experience, CADFEM is your ideal partner for all tasks from the wide-ranging world of structural mechanics.

  • Whether it's Power Bed Fusion (PBF), Direct Energy Depositon (DED) or Binderjet, benefit from CADFEM's simulation experts to solve your individual printing tasks.
  • Learn in our application-specific trainings how you can use simulation to achieve successfully optimal printing results for your purposes.
  • Get started quickly and according to your needs: Choose from a wide range of software packages and licensing models, from easy access via License as a Service to professional equipment incl. HPC cluster integration.

For more information please contact us.

Shakthivel TS
Application Engineer, CADFEM SEA Pte. Ltd.

Success Stories regarding simulation in additive manufacturing

Application examples for developers and service providers

If you are a product developer or service provider ­­– here you will find a practical application of simulation in additive manufacturing.

The application of simulation in product development increases product quality and reduces development costs. The company GKN has started topology optimization on a bicycle pedal crank to obtain the optimum component shape for the power flow. Once the rough shape was found, the component could be arranged in an optimal position in the installation space, allowing a safe and distortion-free print job.  The component design was thencreated including the many small details. The design was finally prepared for 3D printing by determining the orientation and providing the component with support structures. Critical areas of the print job were then identified using simulations to modify the component design if necessary. In a final step, the 2D layer data was exported, allowing the 3D printing machine to produce the part. The simulation supported the development process in many decisive steps by checking the design process at different points in time enabling the developer to make improvements at an early stage.

The 3D printing service provider receives components from its (internal or external) customers as CAD geometries to be produced on the 3D printing machines. The service has to produce these components as quickly as possible without changing the geometry. Especially with new geometries or expensive components, a misprint can be very costly. Therefore, it is useful to simulate the manufacturing process after the component is positioned and supported. Thus, possible distortions, high stresses or coating collisions will be detected to take early countermeasures such as a different orientation, more support or changed process parameters. Furthermore, a geometry that is automatically pre-distorted by the simulation and that gains the desired shape during the printing process can save a lot of processing time for service providers.

Design development and vibration-resistant layout of a bicycle crank manufactured using the Selective Laser Melting (SLM) process including a comparison with the component test.

GKN Powder Metallurgy is a global manufacturer of powder metallurgical components and metal powders. The GKN Additive division focuses on the additive manufacturing processes of binder jetting and selective laser melting and offers the entire spectrum from powder production, process development and contract manufacturing right up to component development to fulfill fatigue requirements. The manufactured components are prototypes, small production runs and components for the aftermarket. In this use case, a bicycle crank serves as an example for a cyclically loaded component. The design and dimensioning of the bicycle crank is described with regard to production using the selective laser melting process. The generation of material data required for the design and dimensioning of cyclically stressed components, for example according to the FKM guideline, will also be described. The use case finishes with a validation including a component test on a servo-hydraulic test bench.

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CADFEM training on the subject of Additive Manufacturing

Learn in compact training how to develop approaches for an optimal "Design for Additive Manufacturing" (DfAM) considering all process issues, such as component orientation, support strategy, preparation for production and thermal distortion.

The right solutions for your simulation projects

Simulation is everywhere and affects every industry. Since simulation requires more than software, CADFEM offers everything you need for successful simulation from a single source: software and IT solutions, consulting, support, engineering and knowledge sharing – always on the cutting edge.