Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Stratasys have applied Hexagon’s simulation technology to capture the behavior of Stratasys’ high-performance, ultra-lightweight Antero-reinforced polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) materials and its additive manufacturing processes. These rigorously-validated simulations offer Stratasys customers unique insight – enabling them to lightweight components and introduce new sustainable aircraft and spacecraft, faster.
3D printed plastic parts offer transformative lightweighting for aerospace, reducing energy use and increasing the range of new aircraft. When the material and processes are fully exploited by product designers, it may also reduce the cost caused by overengineering as well as the waste and lead times of traditional manufacturing. However, the adoption of plastics and additive methods for structural components has remained slow due to the industry’s safety-critical nature and regulations. Providing engineering teams with the simulation tools to validate that these materials will achieve the required part performance when manufactured is the ‘missing link’ – enabling designers to apply these breakthroughs, today.
Rigorously-validated multi-scale models of these new high-performance aerospace-approved materials – Stratasys Antero 840CN03 and Antero 800NA – have now been added to Hexagon’s Digimat materials exchange ecosystem, with associated print process parameters from Stratasys’ aerospace-ready 3D printers. Using these detailed proprietary models, engineers can create digital twins that accurately predict how parts printed with the chosen material and approved aerospace-ready Stratasys printer will perform in a digital reality with real-world use cases and certification tests before any physical prototypes are manufactured.
Digimat software gives manufacturers the ability to design lighter parts that can match metals in performance, and avoid costly overengineering using their preferred finite element analysis (FEA) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools. Companies that use Digimat in conjunction with Hexagon’s MSC Nastran and MSC Apex will accelerate the certification and documentation of their work.
The Antero materials are already being used at the cutting edge of aerospace engineering to bring major innovations to reality on time – for example, Lockheed Martin’s use of Antero 840CN03 to create NASA’s Orion spacecraft docking hatch cover. By making rigorous digital engineering and virtual manufacturing possible with these new simulation tools, more product development teams can apply and de-risk Stratasys’ aerospace additive manufacturing solutions.
“As the aerospace industry continues to push for more sustainable designs, unlocking the lightweighting potential of thermoplastics and 3D printing will be key. By leveraging the power of our simulation technology, manufacturers gain access to proprietary information so their engineers can ‘work the problem’ with reliable information. We’re excited to see how this next chapter with Stratasys will help the industry create lighter, stronger designs in any design engineering tool with more confidence and less cost and help bring next-gen aircraft to market faster,” said Aziz Tahiri, vice president of global aerospace and defense for Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division.
“The Antero 840CN03 and Antero 800NA thermoplastics provide unprecedented strength, heat, and chemical resistance. When combined with Hexagon’s simulation insights and actionable data, these 3D printed materials’ ability to replace certain applications of aluminum and steel clearly points to growing use in the aerospace industry. We believe they meet manufacturers’ increasingly complex performance needs, and by combining innovative modeling software with 3D printing, can reduce production timelines from months to days,” said Foster Ferguson, aerospace business segment leader at Stratasys.
Through this partnership between Stratasys and Hexagon, which spans more than a decade, several high-performance thermoplastic materials – including Ultem 9085, Ultem 9085 CG, Ultem 1010, and Nylon12CF – have been characterized and added to Hexagon’s Digimat material modeling software.