MoldMaking Technology

SEP 2018

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Additive Manufacturing 24 MoldMaking Technology —— SEPTEMBER 2018 Simulation can detect critical machining errors in the machining process before those errors occur on your CNC equipment. Errors include things like collisions between machine components or expensive additive equipment and non-cutting-tool shanks or holders damaging the part (shown). By Gene Granata Know What to Expect Before Starting with Additive Manufacturing Machine simulation can help to provide a clear picture of the additive manufacturing process from the first to the last step. A s with other segments of the manufacturing industry, 3D printing is making significant inroads into the mold, die and toolmaking market. Whether it is mold inserts with conformal cooling channels, mold repairs, rapid prototype and bridge tooling, or 3D-printed "show-and-tell" models for quoting and customer approval purposes, those who have made the leap to additive are finding it an important tool in the manufacturing toolbox. Yet challenges exist because metal additive, powder-bed and spray-deposition technology are still relatively new. The correct "recipe" of laser parameters, such as traverse speed and power levels, material feed rates and gas flow, are often a best guess or are determined by slow trial-and-error on the machine tool. The behavior of the feedstocks and powders that you would use with 3D printers is similar. Additively manufactured part geometries are in a constant state of flux as designers and engineers learn the best ways to leverage this new technology. Warping from thermally induced internal stress and the occasional "crashed build" is not uncom- mon. Then, once the product leaves the 3D printer, secondary machining processes are usually needed to ream and tap holes or skim-cut critical surfaces. To make matters worse, there is no chance to open the door and peek in on the burgeoning workpiece as there is with a CNC machining center or lathe. Therefore, it behooves machine own- ers, programmers and operators to know what to expect before pushing the cycle start button and to have a clear idea of the manufacturing process from the first step to the last. The best way to accomplish this is with machine simulation software. Determining the Need for Machine Simulation Some people argue that machine simulation software is all about collision checking, and because the additive manufactur- ing process is always working on the top layers of the Images courtesy of CGTech.

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