3D printer manufacturer VELO3D has announced a series of upgrades to its print preparation software Flow, enhancing the platform’s capabilities and enabling SupportFree metal additive manufacturing, predictable part outcomes and more.
VELO3D’s Flow software platform is specifically designed to accompany the company’s Sapphire 3D printer, a laser fusion metal AM system released in August 2018. The software helps users to prepare their part or series of parts for printing, tackling tasks such as part orientation, support generation, simulated print predictions, per-surface process application, slice composing and process review.
Thanks to these tools, the Flow platform, driven by an integrated simulation engine, allows users to 3D print complex geometries that are SupportFree. This capability—also enabled by the Sapphire 3D printer—makes it possible to produce parts that were either impossible or uneconomical because of the complexity and cost of removing certain support structures.
As Scott Volk, CTO of metal fabricator Incodema3D, commented: “Flow takes a refreshing new look at additive software: its ease of use is unprecedented. Understanding how users work and offering just in time tools is an exciting direction taken by VELO3D. VELO3D’s advanced simulation, prediction and correction ensures not only print success, but improved part to part quality accelerating the adoption of volume production.”
Looking at the SupportFree 3D printing more closely, it reportedly has the ability to achieve prints with low angles, overhangs below five degrees, large inner diameters and tubes up to 40 mm without supports. Many other AM systems, by contrast, require supports for most angles below 45 degrees—a fact which limits design freedom and complicates post-processing with support removal.
The Flow software enhancements also include a new physics-driven simulation engine, built from the ground up and which is optimized for the Sapphire system. According to VELO3D, it “contributes to achieving a first print success rate of up to 90 percent.” A powerful simulation utility not only predicts print outcomes but corrects print deformations and validates the print feasibility before the manufacturing process begins. Finally, a new sophisticated composer tool detects geometric features and applies the optimized print process to specific features for predictable print results.
Keeping user friendliness and productivity in mind, Flow uses a native CAD workflow and combines many print preparation tools into a single platform. Users can benefit from other features such as smart selection, refinement and filtering which help to simplify the print preparation process.
Notably, VELO3D says its software is the first print preparation software on the market that manages print outcome based on design intent. In other words, throughout the print preparation process the design intent of parts is preserved, while other aspects are optimized for cost, quality and other factors.
“Build preparation software has always been an afterthought,” concluded Benny Buller, CEO of VELO3D. “VELO3D’s strategy is to offer an integrated hardware, software and process solution. The system is process driven, where the software manages the hardware and can predict and control the outcome. It is the only way to fulfill our mission to manufacture any design, assure accuracy and consistency and thus take additive manufacturing mainstream.”