ANSYS Adds 3DSim for Simulation Driven Additive Manufacturing

Written By: 
Anthony Dawson

As we announced recently, ANSYS and 3DSIM have joined forces to offer engineers, designers and machine operators the only end-to-end additive manufacturing (AM) simulation workflow in the world today. We call it simulation-driven additive manufacturing. The powerful combination of exaSIM and FLEX from 3DSIM with ANSYS Workbench and the full line of ANSYS solvers will give you unprecedented design-to-print capabilities for AM.

Why is this important? Because there are still challenges to be overcome in AM — especially for metals — to ensure that every part will be built successfully with full confidence in its design and functionality the first time through the AM process. Our aim is to ensure first build success through comprehensive simulation of all aspects of additive manufacturing, from machine setup to the microstructure of the metal to the structural integrity of the finished part.


While you might think that a technology invented in the 1980s for polymers and in the 1990s for metals would be fully understood by now, the science of additive manufacturing is complex enough that we are still studying it and improving it. Consider the metal powder bed fusion processes, first of all: A powdered metal, containing perhaps more than one metallic element, is deposited in a thin layer. According to a pattern derived from a 3-D model the powder is then heated by a laser or some other method to melt it. Another layer of metal powder is deposited, and the process continues until the full 3-D part emerges at the end.

Now consider the physics and materials science involved. A layer of powdered metal is heated and cooled. When the next layer is deposited, the first layer is heated again so the two layers become “welded” together to form a solid. By the time the part is finished, each layer has been thermally cycled many times, creating residual strain in the part. A small microstructural defect might form where powder is distributed unevenly or as a result of thermal expansion/contraction cycles. On a macrostructural level, depending on the complexity of the part, additional strain might be present due to the overall shape and support structure of the piece. Any of these cases, and many more potential scenarios, could lead to a build failure. A build failure could include distortion in the part that makes the part out of tolerance, a fractured or broken part, or — in some, thankfully rare, cases — extensive damage to the expensive AM machine.

Engineering simulation can solve these problems upfront by predicting the build process effects and resulting properties of a part made by AM in advance. The 3-D design can then be modified to eliminate the predicted problems and ensure a successful build of a structurally sound part.

Brent Stucker, Ph.D. Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of 3DSIM, LLC

That’s what makes the combination of 3DSIM and ANSYS simulation technologies so powerful. 3DSIM of Park City, Utah, has been a leading company in the AM simulation market since its founding in 2014 by co-founders Brent Stucker, Deepankar Pal and Nachiket Patil. The merging of 3DSIM’s expertise in simulating additive manufacturing processes with the ANSYS Workbench multiphysics platform and suite of physics solvers makes it possible to analyze in advance the physics of each step of the process for all materials involved. By detecting design and build problems upfront, they can be avoided in practice.

Now, ANSYS exaSIM (developed by 3DSIM) can help machine operators and designers for additive manufacturing-developed parts identify and address residual stress, distortion and build failure, enabling them to achieve part tolerances and avoid build failures without physical experimentation.

ANSYS FLEX (another 3DSIM product) can help machine operators to determine optimum machine/material run parameters while predicting/optimizing microstructural and material properties during the build.

Add to these capabilities the structural, fluid and thermal solvers of ANSYS simulation solutions, which can be run simultaneously in a seamless workflow on our Workbench multiphysics platform, and you can address every potential issue of an AM build before it starts. When combined with the unprecedented accuracy that makes ANSYS the most trusted simulation software provider in the market, and our unparalleled world-wide customer support with a dedicated AM team, you have the best-in-class full design-to-print provider for AM.

ANSYS’ new simulation-driven additive manufacturing solutions can benefit:

  • Machine operators who require a tool to set up the machine process parameters, supports and part orientation for build success.
  • Designers and engineers who need to qualify parts for a given machine and material.
  • Analysts requiring upfront simulation to validate designs and predict build success for additive manufacturing.
  • Research scientists and engineers who are evaluating, characterizing and optimizing material microstructure.
  • Additive manufacturing equipment developers and technology providers.

This joining of 3DSIM and ANSYS is just the start. We will continue to improve on additive manufacturing simulation technologies with the combined expertise of 3DSIM engineers and software developers — now happily part of the ANSYS family — and their longtime ANSYS colleagues to solve every challenge facing the AM community. To learn more about simulation-driven additive manufacturing and the promise it holds for enhancing manufacturing capabilities in the future, visit our web page.


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