Plugging GPUs into the Metal AM Workflow
Additive manufacturing (AM) is bridging the gap between what designers can envision and machinists can fabricate. Manufacturability is just as defining for AM as it is for traditional factory processes. The thing and act of its making are still intertwined.
Metal AM is just now “becoming mainstream enough that people are starting to talk about challenges and problems,” says Chad Barden, CEO of Atlas 3D. “Before it was black art; now it is becoming more of a science. Professionals are collaborating, sharing problems and solutions … When you have a group of professionals who say ‘my gut told me to print it this way’ you don’t get a lot of sharing. It is hard to share gut instinct.”
Adding GPUs to the Process
Atlas 3D decided created a new approach specific to AM: thermal circuit network simulation. The patent-pending process can work with either GPUs or CPUs. The GPU version of the software was just finished. The product—Sunata—simulates the build process to find the optimal orientation for printing. Barden says the CPU-based Sunata can calculate 100 orientations using thermal distortion faster than most competing solutions can simulate distortion on one orientation. The new GPU version, Barden says, is “20 times faster than the CPU version.”