BEAM joins forces with CGtech

Additive Manufacturing solution provider BeAM joins forces with CGTech, the industry leader in CNC simulation and optimization software.

For as long as there has been additive manufacturing, design freedom has been one of the biggest cornerstones of it’s use. Because parts are produced one paper-thin layer at a time, there’s little that can’t be manufactured—all it takes is the ability to throw out conventional design-thinking in favor of a “let’s see what’s possible” mentality.

This is particularly true when additive equipment has five axis motion, is able to deposit a range of metals to existing workpieces, build completely from scratch, and generate high quality parts with minimal post processing that is more cost efficient than traditional forms of manufacturing. Welcome to BeAM Machines, an original equipment manufacturer of Directed Energy Deposition machines.

BeAM’s powder-based Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology utilizes a high-powered laser and coaxial deposition nozzle to apply highly accurate, three-dimensional layers of aerospace grade materials like titanium, Inconel, stainless steels, and more.

BeAM’s DED can be used to repair parts like turbine blades and fuel nozzles, add features to existing geometries, and build near net shape with “the best surface finish currently available from any metal-based additive manufacturer,” says Austin Kron, business development manager from BeAM’s North American operations. “Not only is the machine extremely accurate but having five axis brings a great deal of flexibility to the table. For example, we can generate part features less than one millimeter thick, with better than 100 microns accuracy. This eliminates much of the post-process machining needed with virtually all metal parts. And unlike powder bed machines, we don’t need support structures during the build—we just rotate the part to whatever orientation is necessary to maintain proper geometry.”

These five-axis capabilities allow BeAM Machines users to take design freedom in ever more complex directions. However, even with the ability to create previously unachievable shapes, the BeAM has found visualization of these shapes increasingly challenging. That’s why the TeAM at BeAM’s Cincinnati, Ohio solutions center turned to toolpath simulation provider CGTech Inc. for help with verifying the millions of lines of code needed to drive their 3D printers.

Irvine, California-based CGTech and its VERICUT brand has long been the industry leader in toolpath simulation and optimization software, and the VERICUT Additive module is but the latest in a series of software tools designed to make manufacturers more efficient and their equipment safer. With the ability to simulate all aspects of the 3D-printing process, VERICUT can:

  • Eliminate expensive machine downtime and scrapped workpieces by detecting collisions before they happen.
  • Validate machine operating parameters such as gas flow, laser wattage, and proper material flow per material type.
  • Maintain the entire part build history for troubleshooting purposes, or for customer-mandated archiving.
  • Clearly identify programming errors as well as opportunities for process improvement.
  • Provide realistic viewing of additive process, part build from it, and machine tool motion throughout the build process, long before the laser lights up or the powder begins to flow.

The software does all this by reading the same G-code data file that the machine uses. There are never translation errors, and it doesn’t matter where the code came from, whether it was generated by a CAM system, a custom application, text editor, or composite from any of these means.“VERICUT Additive uses a digital twin of the workpiece and machine tool to simulate 3D-printing and hybrid processes,” says CGTech Product Manager Gene Granata. “Because VERICUT sees what the machine sees, it creates a layer of machine protection and simulation accuracy otherwise impossible to achieve. This is especially important with high-speed five-axis machine tools like BeAM’s, due to the extreme part complexity and fast build rates made possible by their equipment. This is why we’ve become technology partners.”

Tim Bell, Engineering Director at BeAM agrees. “VERICUT Additive has proven to be an extremely valuable tool for optimizing code. It’s certainly reduced the amount of time needed for process development, and its simulation capabilities have helped us detect and avoid costly collisions. What’s more, it can be used for calculating cycle times in advance of the actual build, determining part feasibility, and given us greater confidence with difficult geometries. I would strongly recommend VERICUT to any of our customers.”