AM Software

AM Software is the “fourth power” within the end-to-end AM production cycle, together with hardware, materials and applications. The impact of software on the future of digital production is obvious but perhaps it is not yet fully understood where it is that software can affect and contribute to improve and optimize the future of manufacturing.

All digital production inevitably begins with a CAD (Computer Aided Design) model. Therefore CAD (or 3D modeling) software was the first element to emerge the new industrial revolution. As further proof of this, CAD software companies have been taking off in terms of financial performance since AM began to emerge as a production method. Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, Siemens, Altair and Ansys, to name a few of the largest companies in this segment, have been booming. At the same time, all these companies have made some very significant investments in AM and DfAM.

DfAM is the second highly relevant way that software impacts digital production. The acronym stands for “Design for Additive Manufacturing” and indicates all those new approaches to product and part creation that are made possible by the virtually endless geometric possibilities opened up by additive manufacturing. These tools, also known by the acronym CAE (Computer Aided Engineering), include parametric first and later generative software tools that are enabling engineers to create an entirely new generation of bio-inspired products, that are lighter, more complex and way more efficient.

Simulation software is necessary to make sure that these new – never seen before – products do perform as they are intended to, while AM software is also necessary to make sure that the AM hardware transforms into real physical products that which was imagined and then translated into a digital product or – as they are increasingly described now – a product’s digital twin. AM-specific CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software is necessary to give a growing number of different systems and technologies the proper instructions to produce a part layer by layer and even voxel by voxel. Then process monitoring software – and a growing demand of artificial intelligence power – is necessary to ensure that this happens without errors.

Once an AM part emerges from an AM machine it needs to move on to the next stations of the end-to-end digital production cycle. These include non-disruptive analysis via 3D and CAT scanning (and software is necessary here as well), part finishing (which requires adequate software and accurately studied design methods) and part handling. All these phases – and all the previous phases need to be controlled and coordinated by AM-specific MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) software. In fact, the entire lifecycle of the product, from the initial quotation to its final use, can now be digitalized and controlled via PLM  (Product Lifecycle Management) software.

This is the area where the giants of software are squaring off to define the way we will make anything and everything.

  • Graphic of Autodesk's Fusion 360 suite simulation software

    Trial-and-error build modeling in the additive manufacturing sector limits 3D printing’s uptake in industrial activity. Trial and error has been necessary because repeated build failures show designers how best to correct for errors. The material and human costs associated with such failures, however, do not justify AM uptake in the…

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  • Oqton, a software company specializing in AI-powered solutions for the manufacturing industry, has raised over $40M in a Series A financing round, led by Fortino Capital, a leading B2B software investor, by PMV, the regional Flemish investment fund, and by Sandvik, a global engineering group. In particular, Sandvik—which manufactures AM…

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  • Generatively designed skateboard truck made for Braille Skateboarding, with print prep completed in Fusion 360.

    Autodesk added its suite of Netfabb tools to the Autodesk Fusion 360 software, which incorporates additive CAD, cost-projection and milling tools. Netfabb, a web-based subscription service, builds upon the Fusion 360 software by adding a parts library, additive system and material parameters and simulation software to the Fusion 360 package.…

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  • Itslitho is introducing new Christmas-themed lithophane shapes for free. That’s great news for lithophane makers. During these festive days, lithophanes are very popular. The reason why is because they require light to reveal their personalized images. The founders of ItsLitho wanted to make 3D printed lithophanes more accessible to everyone.…

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  • DMG MORI selected Sigma Labs as its preferred melt pool monitoring system for their Lasertec SLM machines. Sigma Labs is a global provider for in-process quality assurance software and technology. Engineering teams from both companies worked extensively to test the integrated solution to ensure that it meets the demanding needs…

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  • CADENAS and the parametric, programmable 3D open-source CAD software FreeCAD are collaborating to provide engineers and designers access to millions of 3D CAD models from over 2,500 manufacturer catalogs within the new FreeCAD version 0.19. Thanks to the new, deep integration of high-quality, manufacturer-verified component information from CADENAS…

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  • Stratasys created a new program to integrate its 3D printers in production environments with the factory floor via the GrabCAD software development kit (SDK). Each SDK package includes a complete set of application programming interfaces, documentation, and code samples that enable development partners and manufacturing customers to establish two-way connectivity…

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  • 3Diligent consulting services

    ​3Diligent​, a leading Industry 4.0 software company and on-demand manufacturing provider, launched its 3Diligent Portal application. The new application enables manufacturers of all sizes and levels of internet savvy to build an online digital presence, reach new customers, receive RFQs, and ultimately process orders remotely and securely. To obtain a…

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  • SelfCAD, a popular all-in-one online 3D modeling software, just added a new Tutorial feature. With this tool, designers can record their modeling process, add instructions to it, and share it with others so they can design the model themselves. SelfCAD is a 3D modeling and slicing software for both beginners…

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  • Wevolver, in partnership with advanced materials company polySpectra, announced Heath Townsend as the winner of the Make it Real 3D Printing Challenge. Townsend, founder of Evol Components, will receive $25,000 worth of additive manufacturing services to realize his company’s idea for a motorbike bracket as a physical product.  The bracket is…

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