netfabb’s Selective Space Structures (3S) has been incredibility useful to us ....
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Modern technologies in Additive Manufacturing - also called free form fabrication - have become a cornerstone of professional R&D and manufacturing, and their freedom in design and geometry were unimaginable only a few years ago. Nevertheless, these freedoms are not widely used in current day-to-day business, mainly because of the time and effort needed for constructing highly complex fabrication data.
Common CAD systems are built and very efficient for designing traditional solid parts, but are always limited due to human handling and computation resources. On the other hand, using a high structural resolution, the volume of data grows very quickly and soon can not be handled by traditional methods any more.
The following example will highlight the problem of computation. Assume you want to generate a model filled up with a structure consisting of repeating elementary cells. By the increase of the complexity degree of an elementary cell, the data set rises approximately by the 3rd power.
Now, if this elementary cell is also divided in such a way into each direction
in space, the data set again increases to around the eightfold quantity (2³).
In addition, if at the last step, the part was doubled in size, a further eightfold increase occurs.
That means that by this simple change of geometry, the data increases by 2³ x 2³ x 2³ = 512 times, whereby the processing on a CAD system is quite difficult. Calculation time increase dramatically. We have experienced tasks that traditionally would have generated data files of more than one Terabyte. Even if you take into account a fast development of computation hardware, these amounts won't be easy-to-handle in the next decade.
With the help of the 3S software, the necessary 3D structures can be computed and attached to individual parts quickly and efficiently. By the use of intelligent algorithms, efficiency gains of up to 99% are possible compared with conventional CAD programs. Memory consumption drops just as dramatically, with complex structures to a few tenths of a percent.
But even if you only consider small-sized parts which are appropriate for today's hardware, complexity is still a problem for human handling. Just imagine the problem of part-cooling. Additive Techniques are perfectly suitable for including cooling channels into metal parts which offers a variety direct applications. Unfortunately, the manual design and construction of channels into solid parts needs highly developed skills and a lot of patience and time.
The 3S software allows highly effective automation and scripting capabilites, which can be used to develop One-Click-Solutions. Taking this view-point, you can also see the Selective Space Structures Software as a complete development environment for structural generation and application techniques.