Delcam will preview its new set of pre-processing software tools for manufacture by 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing at the TCT Show to be held at the NEC, Birmingham, on 30th September and 1st October. The PartBuilder software, which is currently under development at Delcam's Birmingham headquarters, will provides quick and easy methods to prepare for production CAD files from both native and neutral formats.
PartBuilder covers four main steps in model preparation:
1. Checking the quality of the CAD model and repairing any problems it might have
2. Positioning the part in the optimum orientation for layer-by-layer manufacture
3. Addition of any fixtures, supports and other geometry that might be required to ensure reliable manufacture and easier post-processing
4. Exporting the complete data in a suitable file format for manufacture
At the start of the process, PartBuilder undertakes an analysis of the imported CAD model to verify the quality of the incoming design and so give the best possible chance of successful manufacture. Common problems in either solid models or mesh files, such as gaps or overlaps in the data, can be identified and repaired to give a water-tight CAD file that will generate an accurate and successful part.
The CAD model is then positioned within the machine envelope, either for manufacture as a single item or as part of a group of components that will be built simultaneously. Orienting the model on the build platform must consider a number of factors, including production time and cost, fixturing quality, heat effects and any critical areas of the part. PartBuilder allows the user to accept the optimised suggestions made automatically by the software or to try a variety of manually selected orientations.
Fixturing can then be created in PartBuilder that may be required for a number of reasons, the most important being the need to support the mass of the part during the build. Fixtures are also used to transfer heat away from the part so that thermal and mechanical stresses are minimised.
PartBuilder is able to analyse the model to identify critical areas that need fixtures to ensure geometric stability during the build and adequate heat management, and to generate the geometry required. As with the part orientation, the user has the ability to edit the suggested results manually if required.
The positioning of the fixtures also needs to take account of their removal after the build, both to ease their removal and to minimise any witness marks or scars that may be left on the part.
In addition to fixtures, other geometry types may need to be added, such as spigots to grip the part during polishing and other finishing operations, or datum tabs to provide a known location for finish machining programs.
The final stage is the export the complete model from PartBuilder in a suitable data file format for the 3D Printer or AM equipment. PartBuilder can output models in a growing range of manufacturers' proprietary file formats, including CLI data for EOS machines and MTT data for Renishaw equipment, as well as STL mesh data that can be processed directly by most additive machines' own software.
For further information on Delcam's PartBuilder software, please contact:
Direct Tel No: 0121 683 1081
Small Heath Business Park,
Birmingham, B10 0HJ, UK