Autodesk launches Netfabb 2021 with improved support for metal AM

June 2, 2020

Autodesk’s Netfabb 2021 offers improved simulation support for metal PBF (Courtesy Autodesk)

Autodesk, San Rafael, California, USA, has revealed the latest release of its Netfabb® Additive Manufacturing software. The new release, Netfabb 2021, offers a number of new features, including improved build controls and greater support for metal Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) and Directed Energy Deposition (DED).

The use of new 3D packing methods in Netfabb 2021 has reportedly been made possible with two new algorithms, which increase packing density for processes that don’t require support structures, such as Binder Jetting (BJT). 

Using these new 3D packing methods, a size sorting algorithm prioritises large parts for the centre of the build platform while filling the remaining volume with smaller objects, while a gravity algorithm uses a physics-based engine to simulate gravity and packs parts more closely.

Netfabb 2021 also offers advanced toolpath features. New hexagonal hatch patterns are said to help balance thermal input and build quality, and smoke simulation of slice data from SLM Solutions and Renishaw helps identify areas where the smoke plume may interfere with the laser path, causing deflections that jeopardise build quality. The new release allows users to control toolpath vectors based on an external input, such as process simulation results.

Smoke simulation of slice data in Netfabb 2021 (Courtesy Autodesk)

Increased mesh limits have been made possible using simulation Utility LT (included with Netfabb Ultimate), which simulates metal Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) technology to identify and remediate common build failures, including distortion, recoater blade interference, hotspots, lack of fusion zones and support structure failure. With the 2021 version, Autodesk stated that it has relaxed the limits significantly to enable this utility to simulate even more complex geometries.

Two new features have been added to Netfabb 2021’s Simulation Utility which are said to offer enhanced process simulation for metal PBF processes. Validated parameter files for Inconel 718 have been added, with machine vendor defaults for the EOS M290 and the Additive Industries MetalFAB1 machines, to enable the generation of accurate simulations without the need to generate new parameter files. 

In addition, the ability to offset the geometry preform in the new release is expected to enable users to compensate for predicted distortion in a Directed Energy Deposition (DED) simulation and mitigate distortion in DED parts.

The new release also offers improved AM machine integrations and the ability to quickly establish build setting customisations, and create, save and load build profiles for a given material directly from Netfabb. 

A number of new features and functions have been added to improve user experience. For example, users can now clone supports between similar parts, and taper supports to minimise their footprint and the effort required to remove them. Users can also automatically create bar supports that recognise thin walls and generate a single path of bars, overriding the global contour offset to wall setting. 

The Custom Part Library in Netfabb 2021 can now be populated with a user’s own designs, offering quick access to the most often-used parts such as custom test specimens used to fill up build platforms, and common objects such as giveaway parts.

Parts can also be duplicated easily with a newly redesigned rectangular pattern dialogue, and build volumes can be filled with selected parts and slices simultaneously, minimising guesswork and task repetition. All parts inside or outside the platform can be automatically selected, making it easier to move them to a different platform or delete them entirely.

The new release is said to make it possible to automate common workflows. A new scripting example allows users to compare two similar meshes automatically, and helps to identify differences using colours and graphs. 

In addition, automatic support separation is said to allow users to separate open and solid supports into two parts with one click, giving increased control over objects when assigning toolpath parameters. The ability to clone any workspace is expected to allow for faster duplication of a build platfrom, making it possible to experiment with different packing, slicing or toolpathing strategies easily. 

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