New Process Simulation Software For Metal Additive Manufacturing


CATEGORY: 3D Software and Scanner BRAND: Desktop Metal

Live Sinter offers additive manufacturing engineers fast and predictable sintering outcomes, with simulations results in as little as five minutes and negative offset geometries in as few as twenty minutes.

Desktop Metal, a mass production and turnkey additive manufacturing solutions, today is launching Live Sinter, a software solution designed to eliminate the trial and error required to achieve high-accuracy parts via powder metallurgy-based additive manufacturing processes like binder jetting.

The software launch follows Desktop Metal’s recent signing of a definitive business combination agreement with Trine Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: TRNE), to accelerate its go-to-market efforts and further drive its relentless efforts in advanced R&D.


A breakthrough software application, Live Sinter not only corrects for the shrinkage and distortion parts typically experience during sintering, but also opens the door to printing geometries that, without the software, would present significant challenges to sinter. By improving the shape and dimensional tolerances of sintered parts, first-time part success for complex geometries is improved and the cost and time associated with post-processing are minimized. In many cases, the software even enables parts to be sintered without the use of supports.


While compatible with any sintering-based powder metallurgy process, including metal injection molding (MIM), Live Sinter will first be available to customers of Desktop Metal’s Shop System™, shipping in late 2020, and Production System, shipping in 2021.


Challenges of Sintering & Powder Metallurgy-based Additive Manufacturing

Sintering is a critical step in powder metallurgy-based manufacturing processes, including binder jetting. It involves heating parts to near melting in order to impart strength and integrity, and typically causes parts to shrink by as much as 20 percent from their original printed or molded dimensions. During the process, improperly supported parts also face significant risk of deformation, resulting in parts that emerge from the furnace cracked, distorted, or requiring costly post-processing to achieve dimensional accuracy.


Sintering distortion has been a reality for the powder metallurgy industry for decades. For much of that time, the solution has been to rely on the experience of industry veterans who, based on repeated trial and error, combine adjustments to part designs with various sintering supports, or “setters”, to enable stable, high-volume production. Live Sinter changes the game by minimizing the reliance on trial and error and offering a streamlined, easy-to-use software solution that delivers accurate parts without requiring users to be experts in powder metallurgy.


Software-generated “Negative Offset” Geometry Compensates for Distortion

Developed in collaboration with Desktop Metal materials scientists, Live Sinter can be calibrated to a variety of alloys. It predicts the shrinkage and distortion that parts undergo during sintering, and automatically compensates for such changes, creating “negative offset” geometries that, once printed, will sinter to the original, intended design specifications. These negative offsets are the result of a GPU-accelerated iterative process, in which the software proactively pre-deforms part geometries by precise amounts in specific directions, allowing them to achieve their intended shape as they sinter.


Sintering simulation is a complex multi-physics problem that involves modeling how parts and materials respond to a number of factors, including gravity, shrinkage, density variations, elastic bending, plastic deformation, friction drag, and more. Moreover, the thermodynamic and mechanical transformations that occur during sintering take place under intense heat, making them difficult to observe without either halting the sintering process mid-cycle or installing windows in the furnace to observe distortions from images taken at high temperature. While such methods are potentially tolerable in R&D environments, they create significant delays and costs in time to market for production applications.

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