Autodesk introduced the new version of its Netfabb additive manufacturing and design software. Netfabb 2019 premium version now enables improved simulation of metal powder additive manufacturing processes, with expanded and more streamlined support for a number of 3D printing systems. Also improved is the latticing function, with manual latticing now available to premium users. 3MF file format support and a number of other features make Autodesk’s offer even more powerful, with subscription packages starting at around $300 a year for standard and around $6,000 a year for premium users.
In the Netfabb 2019 version, access to and management of machine workspaces has had a thorough overhaul, focusing on multiple systems support with My Machines. This feature meets the daily needs of managing and operating parks of multiple additive manufacturing systems and can be used to define and load one or multiple build platforms, including process parameters.
Autodesk is showing that it is aware of the ongoing transition of AM into a production technology. Users can even group machine definitions separating prototyping from production machines, single-laser from multi-laser machines, machines on the first floor from those on the second, and so on. My Machines fully replaces the Machine Library dialog. A new view can add existing machine workspace set-ups simply via double-click. Like all other views, this one can be placed somewhere in the window layout (underneath the project tree, for example).
Lattice Commander, for manual lattice control, is now available in the Premium description and also features several extensive changes and improvements. First, the UI now has three tabs: a tab with some statistics and ways to create or import components, an overview tab for managing the selected component and a tab for managing and working on the selected body. Second, a new grid overlay expands the lattice generation set-up to visualize the division of the space occupied by the mesh body into unit cells and to define the offset directly in the display: a new body property sets the role it plays when a part is generated from the component. With this property, you can decide whether to use the body as it is or to use it for trimming or voiding of lattices. For instance, you can use a body as a stencil to cut out sections of a lattice where you do not need it. Finally, a new function can generate a part from component bodies at the click of a single button.
Among other interesting features, Netfabb 2019 also improves support for 3MF files, the new file format for AM that Autodesk, together with other major IT companies such as HP and Microsoft, is developing to replace the legacy STL format. In this new edition, there is now an option for opening 3MF files and interpret components as groups. For exporting as 3MF, groups can be applied as components as well, making use of 3MF’s instancing capabilities. The behavior can be toggled in the settings. Support for large counts of parts and triangles has been improved.
The Simulation utility
A new Getting Started window in Netfabb 2019 now provides direct access to the Processing Parameter library. Users are warned if their graphics card is not suitable for running Sim Utility. Processing parameter files (PRM) files can be generated on the cloud. Browser information now includes the PRM details for each part and support, and the material for each build plate. The management of Processing Parameter files features several specific improvements. First, physical process parameters are displayed for all PRM files in the initial library dialog. In addition, new icons provide quicker access to operations such as editing, scaling, and opening the stored location of a PRM file.
The Heat Treatment dialog is easier to use with the addition of a Delete Row button. The Results Probe option allows selection of only the points on visible surfaces, or all points included when the selected area is projected through the model. Save As command for projects defaults to creating a new folder at the same directory level as the current project folder. A third part scale mechanical boundary condition has been added, to model cases where the build plate is not bolted to the build elevator. Job Manager opens automatically at the start of a simulation, and the entries can be sorted by various columns, such as Time Started, or Job name. Simulation results are then loaded automatically, no longer requiring the user’s confirmation.