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.

  • Photo of nTopology signs distribution agreement with NTT DATA XAM Technologies in Japan

    After signing an MoU with Yamaichi Special Steel just last month, to bring it’s nTop software to Japan’s automotive industry, NYC-based software firm nTopology has now established a distribution partnership with NTT DATA XAM Technologies, the recently established AM division of Japanese system integration giant NTT DATA Corporation (a partly…

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  • Photo of 3MF Consortium joins Linux Foundation as Open Standards Project

    The 3MF Consortium, the organization dedicated to advancing a universal specification for 3D printing, is becoming a Linux Foundation member and that HP’s Luis Baldez is its new Executive Director (ED). Baldez supersedes Microsoft’s Adrian Lannin, who has served as ED since the 3MF Consortium was founded in 2015. Among…

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  • Photo of All new Ansys Discovery again improves design workflow, reduces engineering labor

    Consolidating its role as a global leader in design and simulation software, Ansys is helping engineering teams deliver significant gains in productivity, spur innovation and speed time to market with Ansys Discovery. Significantly expanding on the breakthrough advancements delivered by Ansys Discovery Live, this next-generation application delivers a comprehensive solution…

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  • Photo of DfAM takes aerospace to new heights

    This interview was originally published in the 3dpbm AM Focus eBook on Aerospace. When you talk about additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry, it is impossible not to discuss design. Design is one of – if not  – the most important driving factors behind AM’s benefits in the development of aerospace…

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  • Photo of DfAM software startup TOffeeAM raises £1 million in seed funding

    A new developer of additive manufacturing design software, TOffeeAM, has raised £1 million in seed funding, which will enable it to expand its team and increase its engineering capabilities. UK-based TOffeeAM was founded in 2019 as a spin-out of Imperial College London and has brought to market a highly automated…

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  • Photo of Renishaw Solutions Center integrates TRACEam quality management

    Renishaw Inc. Solutions Center USA has partnered with TRACEam, a provider of quality management tools for streamlining project management and documentation throughout the additive manufacturing workflow. Through the partnership, TRACEam’s end-to-end process will be integrated directly into the Renishaw InfiniAM API ecosystem, resulting in a more efficient and scalable AM…

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  • Photo of CIA investment firm In-Q-Tel backs nTopology

    Engineering software developer nTopology has entered into a partnership with In-Q-Tel, Inc. (IQT), a non-profit strategic investor that identifies and supports cutting-edge technologies that could be used by the CIA and other U.S. government intelligence and national security agencies. In-Q-Tel’s investment in nTopology follows another recent investment in a 3D…

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  • Photo of MX3D successfully installs 3D printed Robot Arm

    MX3D, an Amsterdam-based company that has invented a large-format metal 3D printer, has made an exciting announcement for those following its progress. The company has successfully installed a newly optimized industrial robot arm. The part, designed by a team of engineers at Altair and 3D printed by MX3D, can be…

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  • Photo of announces next-gen AI engine, the 3DP AI-Perfecter, an Israel-based startup, has announced the launch of its next-generation proprietary AI engine for 3D printing. The software, called 3DP AI-Perfecter, is a pre-printing evaluation tool based on artificial intelligence technologies. The new program is designed to enable industries like aerospace, defense and automotive to fully exploit the benefits…

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  • Photo of Overall design considerations for 3D printing

    Designing for additive manufacturing (DfAM) can seem daunting. Often, the phrase DfAM is juxtaposed with images of complex lattice structures or forms that look more organic than mechanical. In reality, 3D printing is inherently a very forgiving process when it comes to design best practices. It can easily perform internal…

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