Successful Additive Prints, the First Time

Metal Additive Manufacturing:A Flawed Process

Being able to translate a part into a successful print isn’t easy. Warpage, shrinkage, recoater blade crashes, etc. can all be symptoms of the larger issue, thermal distortion. Thermal distortion is the main issue hampering successful first prints in metal additive.

The two key contributors to thermal distortion:

  1. Part orientation
  2. Support structure integrity

Finding the proper part orientation and supporting it adequately is more “black art” than science. The few designers that have  knowledge of “the black art” are left with a trial and error process. Not only does the trial and error process cost time, money, and material, it still yields a 40% failure rate for first print runs, until now.

Sunata Solves the Problem

Design engineers only option to date has been expensive, confusing, and unintuitive, simulation tools which are slow, and only simulate that “guessed” solution. Once the “guessed ” solution has been simulated, there is no guidance as to how to optimize the orientation and support structures, thus leaving the user to a trial and error process. They don’t identify the optimal orientation and support structures for the user. Sunata is different.

Sunata answers the optimal orientation and support structure question for the user. Users simply upload their designs (.STL CAD file) and Sunata scientifically models the part in 100 different orientations to arrive at the optimal orientation and associated support structures. Three mouse clicks and Sunata solves the problem!

Atlas 3D Sunata Key Features

Fast and Efficient

Sunata™ relies on the speed and efficiency of its patent-pending Thermal Circuit Network (TCN) to not only simulate the build, but provide the one, optimal orientation to yield a successful build. The TCN is so computationally efficient, it can calculate the optimal orientation based on Thermal Distortion, on 100 simulations, faster than most competing products can simulate distortion on one!

The TCN efficiently models the entire build process, layer by layer including supports to determine the optimal orientation. The TCN segments the build process into large segments, and then groups those segments together into thermally similar groups. These groups are then treated like nodes in a Thermal Circuit Network with characteristics of capacitance and resistance. Orientations are then modeled using progressive intelligence modeling to arrive at the optimal orientation.

Scalable Requirements

Sunata™ provides users the ability to quickly understand how their design will react when printed. Once the design is confirmed, Sunata™ allows the user to prioritize their requirements from near zero distortion and longer print times, to more tolerable distortion with shorter print times. Example optimizations include:

  • Minimum Build Time
  • Minimum Build Time – while meeting configurable part tolerance requirement
  • Minimal Support Structure
  • Minimal Support Removal
  • Minimal Distortion

Distortion Mapped

Sunata™ provides users the exact distortion that will occur on any area of the part. This accuracy allows users to know before the build process of any possible issues that might occur as a result of a design flaw.

Sunata™ provides 12 views of the distortion that will occur throughout the build process:

  • Total Distortion – Post support removal and no accounting for heat treatment
  • Distortion Due to Residual Stress – Post support removal to as-built part
  • Distortion due to the Build Process – As built part to STL file

These views are available in the X, Y, Z, and Normal to the part’s surface.

Build Costs

The most important factor in knowing the cost of a build is to determine the total print time, which is directly related to the orientation that is used. It is not uncommon for some orientations to result in half of the build time of others, but without tools such as Sunata, users are left guessing as to whether the faster print time will meet the tolerance specified. Sunata determines the optimal orientation by understanding the part’s tolerance and then applying the orientation that will yield the fastest print time while still meeting the specified tolerance.

Sunata automatically determines the optimal orientation, accounts for total sintered material used, and total print time required. This provides significant value to business owners wanting to ensure every print is competitively priced and profitable.


Sunata™ not only finds the optimal orientation to enable successful builds, it also automatically adds supports for the user. Sunata’s™ supports are designed to be strong enough to sufficiently hold the part down and dissipate the thermal effects from the part, but easy enough to remove by hand or pliers. Sunata™ supports do not trap powder and are customizable, at the users own risk.

Sometimes supports are not wanted in specific areas on a part, a part has critical features that need to be exposed to the laser, or a part specifically needs to be facing upward. Sunata™ allows users to limit support attachment by restricting orientation ranges so that critical features face upward and are not supported. Based on this restriction, Sunata™ will then computationally determine the optimal orientation and supports.

Support Modification Options:

Change Support Geometries – Needle-like structure, deep/shallow attachment points, etc.
Change Support Density – Enables users to adjust between solid wall of supports or less dense structures.
Add – If Sunata™ missed adding supports to something in need of supporting, right click the STL face and easily add the necessary supports
Remove – Point and click to remove supports. Automatically generated supports can be selected and removed
Paint – This feature enables users to “paint” on part areas they don’t want supports added (internal tubes, holes, etc.)

Atlas 3D recognizes while allowing advanced users the opportunity to modify supports can be helpful for further optimizing builds, the core benefit customers want, is being able to successfully print their parts. It is for this reason that Atlas highly recommends its automatically generated supports are used to ensure a successful print.

Nesting Solution

Sunata’s™ computationally efficient Thermal Circuit Network helps users intelligently nest their builds on the build platform, while ensuring there is no thermal cross contamination between the different parts on the build plate. The Sunata™ nesting feature allows users to:

  • Optimize the entire build tray collectively, or optimize each geometry individually (ex. fastest build time, minimum distortion, minimum support volume, etc.).
  • Prioritize the various geometries and Sunata™ intelligently determines placement on the platform, while meeting those priorities.

Other Features

STL File Repair

There is no longer any need to use an external .STL file repair tool. Sunata™ incorporates a .STL repair utility which users can select to ensure proper .STL file integrity.

Distortion Compensation

If optimized orientation isn’t enough, users can choose to generate distortion compensated results. Sunata™ changes the geometry received by the printer so the distortion of the print process results in a part that is as close as possible to the original geometry in the STL file.