PLYMOUTH, Ind.—New Sunata™ software from Atlas 3D (www.atlas3d.xyz/#!home) is reported to end the trial-and-error guesswork of metal additive manufacturing. Sunata, designed to work seamlessly with Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) printers, automatically chooses the best orientation for a part and generates the necessary support structures for a successful build, eliminating the expensive and time-consuming simulation process that plagues 3D design engineers, Atlas 3D said in a press release.
Sunata users download their designs directly into the cloud-based program and automatically receive the optimal orientation and associated support structures. There are no servers to install and configure; no IT support is needed. Users simply import the .STL CAD file and Sunata does the rest, Atlas said.
Sunata’s accuracy and speed comes from its patent-pending Thermal Circuit Network (TCN). The TCN scientifically parses the print design into thermally similar layers, which are then divided into thermally similar segments. The TCN applies its thermal modeling algorithm to arrive at the optimal orientation and support structure for that design after running it through 100 different orientations. The TCN scientifically determines the optimal orientation and support structure to yield a successful 3D build the first time and every time, Atlas said.
The technology group at ITAMCO (Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Company) worked with the developers at Atlas 3D to create Sunata. The team appreciated the need to balance minimal distortion with reduced print times. They wanted to profitably print viable components with additive manufacturing, not just print prototypes.
In 2015, ITAMCO was a recipient of an America Makes funding award. The award funded a collaborative effort between ITAMCO, Notre Dame University, Johnson and Johnson, and the University of Pittsburgh. Over $2.75M, 3,000 validation runs, and two years of development later, ITAMCO incorporated Atlas 3D to commercialize the resulting 3D manufacturing software named Sunata™. Today, Sunata is used at Fortune 100 companies, service bureaus, government labs, major universities, and 3D printer manufacturers.
Sunata gives users the ability to scale their requirements from next-to-zero distortion with longer print times, to more tolerable distortion with shorter print times. And because Sunata optimally orients and supports the part for printing, it can accurately provide the total print time and amount of sintered material the design requires, thereby providing accurate cost-to-print data. Knowing this information, in combination with eliminating waste and rework, enables users to profitably print their designs, Atlas said.
Sunata works with many metal feedstocks and is the first additive manufacturing software platform to test the new Ferrium C64 (AMS 6509) metal powder from QuesTek Innovations. Ferrium C64 is a high-strength, high-surface hardness, and highly fracture-resistant carburizable steel that also has high-temperature resistance and hardenability. C64 steel is a performance upgrade from 9310, X53 (AMS 6308), EN36A, EN36B, EN36C, and 8620. It can achieve a surface hardness of 62-64 Rockwell C (HRC) via vacuum carburization.
ITAMCO is already manufacturing components with an EOS M 290 3D printer and Sunata, and the company is especially interested in the QuesTek metal power. One leading application for Ferrium C64 steel is for demanding Bell Helicopter and Sikorsky transmission gearboxes. Under an Army-funded Future Advanced Rotorcraft Drive System (FARDS) program, Bell and Sikorsky are evaluating and qualifying Ferrium C64 steel to displace Alloy X53 (AMS 6308). Benefits would include lighter-weight gear components, increased power density of the helicopter transmission, greater temperature resistance, and better pitting and corrosion resistance.
In addition, QuesTek is evaluating and demonstrating Ferrium C64 for the additive manufacturing of aerospace gears and fatigue-driven applications under an Army-funded SBIR Phase I program. Other possible applications for the metal powder include racing transmission gears, gears with integral bearing races, and integrally geared drive shafts where durability, compactness, weight savings, high-temperature resistance, and high-surface fatigue resistance are valued. Ferrium C64 steel can also offer increased performance and reliability of wind turbine transmission gearboxes, thus reducing maintenance costs and downtime and increasing reliability.
ITAMCO (http://itamco.com) provides open gearing and precision machining services to many heavy-duty industries, including aviation, energy, mining, off-highway vehicles, and marine. Because of this, ITAMCO believes that Sunata and Ferrium C64 could lead to continued advancement in the company’s additive manufacturing program.
“As metal additive printing continues to grow, so too does the need to add new printable powders,” said Chad Barden, CEO of Atlas 3D, in the press release. “The thermal characteristics of these new powders, however, present their own unique set of challenges. ITAMCO is one of many Atlas 3D customers to benefit from our forward-looking move to add this exciting new material to the list of available metals in Sunata. As with all of the other materials, our customers can successfully print their designs with the touch of a button, every time. Without question, Sunata brings certainty to the arduous, trial-and-error process associated with the introduction of a new powder.”
“ITAMCO is a long-time manufacturer of high-quality gears and is an early adopter of Ferrium C64 steel powder for additive manufacturing applications,” said Jeff Grabowski, QuesTek’s manager of business development, in the release. “Atlas 3D’s incorporation of Ferrium C64 steel into the Sunata system will enable others interested in C64 to more efficiently begin building components with this high-performance steel.”