VTT and Nurmi Cylinders Oy
If there’s one point Materialise wanted to drive home last year, it was that Materialise has an entire backbone of software solutions for the AM industry. “The tool of choice for the 3D printing industry”, as Stefaan Motte, Vice President of 3D Printing Software, at Materialise described. The company’s flagship Magics and 3-maticSTL software are enabling companies to verify and help ensure the printability of even the most bold and disruptive innovations.
One of those organisations is the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Northern Europe’s largest multidisciplinary research centre. VTT needed to create an optimised hydraulic valve for their customer Nurmi Cylinders, a manufacturer of industrial products for marine and offshore applications. VTT relied on Materialise software 3-maticSTL to enhance the design, topologically optimised with Altair software.
Typically, conventional hydraulic valves are manufactured from a solid block of material in which internal channels are created through subtractive drilling processes. This can often mean that some auxiliary drillings need to be plugged, which creates the risk of leakage. In order to combat this, researchers at the centre decided to look to an alternative manufacturing solution that would generate a much lighter component with better fluid flow, minimal risk of leakage and ultimately increase the part’s performance.
Topology optimisation allows engineers to reduce the weight of a part without compromising strength. The result is usually a very rough organic form that is not always ideal to print. Therefore, the part needs to be cleaned up and redesigned, which often takes days. After the initial optimisation process, VTT used 3-maticSTL to clean up the data in just a matter of hours and then applied an FEA simulation to confirm that the final model had no signs of stress. After enhancing the hydraulic valve in 3-maticSTL, VTT were able to position the part, create supports in Magics and then send the file direct to an SLM Solutions’ metal printing machine. The added benefit of Materialise’s custom SLM Build Processor, designed to enhance the communication between software and machine, meant that the part was sent to print, divided into slices and printed with the optimum laser scan strategy.
“Additive Manufacturing has a huge impact on several industries. The freedom of design allows companies to create parts that could not be produced without AM,” explains Manuel Michiels, engineer at Materialise who supported VTT with their project. “This extraordinary technology requires a new way of thinking. Therefore engineers and designers need powerful 3D printing software that can help them to unlock the full potential of AM and create high-performant parts like Nurmi Cylinder’s hydraulic valve”.
VTT and Nurmi Cylinders Oy
The final printed part weighs just 600 g, a huge 76% saving in comparison to the original subtractive manufactured part and a substantial benefit to both the manufacturer and efficiency of the part over its lifetime. By using the topology data and 3-maticSTL, VTT saved itself the often time-consuming and difficult task of directly redesigning the topology data to CAD. In addition, the smooth transitions between the internal channels improve the flow of fluids, and since no auxiliary drillings were necessary the risk of leakage is greatly reduced.
Proving that the benefits of AM are “not a future dream”, Materialise’s innovation-filled 25-year history and the recent release of its Magics20 edition software, show that that the company is continuing to help businesses bridge the gap between meaningful applications and AM systems, be that through adapting established business models and products or helping to kickstart new ones.