pro-beam WEBAM 100 DED 3D Printer

DED for big additive manufacturing gets Hexagon boost

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Directed Energy Deposition (DED) 3D printing technologies for large-scale metal parts – often consisting of wire-fed material stock, an electron beam, all packaged into a vacuum chamber – has received further software advancements from Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division.

Hexagon has collaborated with printer manufacturers Pro-beam, Sciaky, DM3D, Gefertec and Meltio, using its Simufact Welding software to create a robust a DED simulation model.

As an example, for Pro-beam’s latest WEBAM 100 3D printer, Hexagon has developed a virtual design-for-manufacturing workflow, including system’s proprietary vacuum conditions, clamping locations, and power adjustments to predict stresses, strains, and distortions.

As part of the demo, the new printer successfully produced a part from 35 layers of titanium, which was then scanned using Hexagon’s AS1 Absolute 3D scanner and REcreate reverse engineering software, then compared to the final part geometry predicted by the simulation using VGMetrology geometry analysis software from Volume Graphics.

Pro-beam product manager Verena Uhl, commented: “Hexagon has the capability to both accurately predict and then accurately measure our WEBAM process, which gives us and customers confidence in our innovative new additive methods.

“The simulation has a very strong dimensional correlation and shows very similar bending of the base plate to the real part. Having reduced simulation time by a factor of 13 without any loss of result quality, it is clear we can rely on Hexagon’s technologies for robust virtual engineering.”

Sciaky DED AM Hero
Sciaky’s huge build capability

Hexagon has announced its partnership with Sciaky’s and its new support for closed loop control, using Simufact to accurately simulate the thermal-mechanical behaviour of the DED process, enabling users to analyse thermal history, stresses, strains, and distortions throughout the process and optimise build setup and process parameters virtually before deposition.

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As a result, the software reads EBAM’s printer trajectories and process parameters directly, reducing the effort required to produce the simulation model. The entire process is streamlined because the G-code is directly compensated within the software.

Further collaborations have included DED service bureau and machine builder DM3D using Hexagon measurement technologies to prove it could meet NASA’s tolerance requirements in producing a full-scale NASA RS-25 nozzle liner, 2.8 meters in height and 2.4 meters in diameter, as part of NASA’s Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT) project.

“Hexagon’s experience and portable metrology technology has proved very valuable for validating the RAMPT RS-25 liner part and generating an accurate model for finish machining,” explained DM3D Technology president Dr. Bhaskar Dutta.

“It is one of the largest DED builds ever made, so we needed a good and reliable inspection technique for part validation. It’s obviously not practical to move a 2-ton rocket engine part to a CMM for inspection. By accurately and quickly measuring the part inside the machine, we also see the opportunity to perform any rework on the part, had it been needed.”

Additionally, Meltio has added Hexagon’s Esprit CAM software to its technology ecosystem, offering machine shops a single interface for preparing and programming hybrid DED production and machining.

The collaboration streamlines subtractive and additive manufacturing workflows for users of the Meltio Engine CNC Integration system. Meltio’s hybrid manufacturing solution allows for the creation of complex parts with precision machining tolerances in a single step. Combining this technology with Hexagon’s Esprit CAM system CNC programming, optimisation, and simulation for both additive and subtractive processes results in a workflow contained within a single tool.

By sharing core technologies with mature coating and welding processes, DED is rapidly gaining traction for military and aerospace Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) for purposes like the repair or rebuilding of equipment, such as turbine blades. It also offers innovation potential within hybrid manufacturing processes, where it can add material and features to workpieces finished with wire EDM or milling processes.

“We see significant demand for the use of our technologies in tandem to create customised, cost-effective solutions that meet the needs of specific additive manufacturing technologies in a variety of applications,” said Mathieu Pérennou, global business development director for additive manufacturing, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division.

“Optimising deposition production processes may entail taking advantage of powerful simulation tools, state-of-the-art scanning technology, robust reverse-engineering and analysis software, or a combination of all of these technologies to achieve the required quality and repeatability.”