Materialise Magics Support Generation Module for Metal 3D Printing (SG+)

Materialise Magics software, core of our flexible software suite, is based on an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms behind metal AM, guiding you on the issues such as best part orientation and support generation. A number of advanced build validation tools analyze the build risks of a part and its support structures to help detect and avoid issues.

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The Role of Software in Metal AM

The Additive Manufacturing of metal parts can be challenging. Today’s market defines the initial learning curve as a two-year period characterized by trial and error experiments, build crashes, vaporized money and time, all mixed in with the occasional correct build. A thorough understanding of how the metal Additive Manufacturing process works is therefore essential.

While it is critical to understand and consider the whole manufacturing process, from powder characteristics to design guidelines and process parameters, including post-processing steps, some of the main stumbling blocks linked to metal Additive Manufacturing are thermal stresses, deformation and shrinkage. How a design engineer positions a part and generates support structures has a huge influence on the success of a build.

Software therefore plays a key role in the metal Additive Manufacturing process. Materialise Magics software, core of our flexible software suite, is based on an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms behind metal AM, guiding you on the issues such as best part orientation and support generation. A number of advanced build validation tools analyze the build risks of a part and its support structures to help detect and avoid issues.

The Role of Software in Metal Additive Manufacturing

The Right Orientation for Successful Builds
A good part orientation is the first step to a successful build, barring warping or a premature termination of the build process. You can prevent warping by limiting the surface area of each layer and thereby controlling heat build-up. Large differences in temperature between two consecutive layers compromise build quality and can lead to build crashes, so you need a tool that allows them to analyze the surface area for each layer along with the heat distribution within a build.


Optimal Support for Every Geometry
In metal Additive Manufacturing, support structures fulfil a greater purpose than simply supporting a part during the build process. Optimal support generation minimizes deformation, prevents build crashes and reduces post-processing work.

There is a wide range of support types, each with its own unique benefits. Depending on the geometry of your part, a specific selection will lead to the best results. For instance, cones and tree supports are particularly interesting for small, thin parts and jewelry.

Manage heat and avoid deformation
To more effectively conduct the heat from the part to the build platform, Magics allows the use of volumetric support elements. These elements also make sure deformation is avoided by anchoring the part firmly to the build plate. With the software library, you can thicken specific supports as well as choose between solid volume, blocks, cones, tree support structures and more.

Block support structures look like a grid of lines, with each line normally assuming the thickness of the melt pool. You can thicken the borders of the grid to conduct the heat more effectively and avoid warping.

Strategies for improving part stability
A powder-bed machine’s recoater system can have a significant impact on the part and its support structure during the build process, which might result in the part shifting. In addition, a deformed part’s edges may protrude over the powder bed, which can potentially lead to a collision that could damage the part and/or the recoater mechanism. A strong connection to the platform is therefore imperative.

Remove Support Easily while Maintaining Surface Quality
In cases where support structures have to be removed manually, easy support removal and smart support placement technology can significantly reduce finishing time.

Materialise offers fully and semi-automated support generation software for Metal AM. Those who favor manual control can opt for the SG+ module in Magics.

Smart support placement
If support structures normally touch a part in two different areas, for instance inside a tube, you can work with angled support structures. With these structures, you can manually guide the support structures from their part to the build platform, avoiding unnecessary contact points.

If the connection with an area of a part cannot be avoided, you can guide the support structures to an area that is easier to process such as a flat surface rather than a curved one. With the rescaled platform projection tool, you can also downsize the width of support structures to limit the area that requires post-processing.

Easy support removal
Solid support structures can be combined with fine teeth that are strong but easy to remove, or they can select predefined break-off points. The latter have the form of an hour glass and will break off in the middle. This avoids the pitting that can result from poor support removal and damaging the part. You can then smoothen the surface. Fragmented block supports or a clearance between the support structures also facilitate support removal.

Recuperating valuable powder
As additive manufacturing grade metal powder can be very expensive it is preferable to recycle as much of the powder as possible. For safety and contamination reasons it is also best to remove as much powder as possible in a controlled atmosphere before removing the support. With perforations and fragmentations of surface support, Magics can ensure the recuperation of powder while preserving the strength of supports. Designers can also hollow solid supports or place a structure inside them to reduce build time.

Optimal Machine Parameters Save Time and Reduce Component Stress
In addition to data preparation software, machine communication software also influences the quality and success of metal additively manufactured parts. Build Processors can also assign different scanning strategies to different types of support structures. For instance, support structures can be scanned every two layers, speeding up the scanning process and reducing stress.

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