Multi-material AIM3D printer integrated into Siemens NX digital CAx process

3D printing news

Sebastian Kallenberg

Multi-material 3D printing firmAIM3D has announced that an ExAM 255 3D printer has been integrated into a siemens NX package by the Naddcon research and development centre in Lichtenfels, Germany, which specialises in additive manufacturing.

AiM3D set out an objective of embedding a ‘classic’ industrial design tool into the process chain.

The Siemens NX tool contains CAD, CAM and CAE solutions. Naddcon integrated the ExAM 255 into the NX environment to make the 3D CEM system accessible as a digital machining system. AIM3D says this integration of NX is one of ‘many’ options in the open machine concept of AIM3D’s multi-material 3D printers.

Users can make use of an alternative approach to operate 3D printers and to generate G-code. A G-code is a programming language used to program numerically controlled machine tools, consisting of path conditions (G-word) and additional functions (M-word), each of which is assigned either a movement or an action.

The bridge between the machine firmware of AIM3D and the CAD/CAM environment of Siemens NX integrates the 3D printer as a CAM processing machine. Based on a desired requirement profile, the 3D components can be optimised in terms of bionics, free-form surfaces, selective densities (variable filling strategies) and weight reductions such as grid structures.

The fibres can be laid down in an optimised manner with respect to the force flow, which defines the stiffness or elasticity and the mechanical load capacity.In addition, a database system and powerful simulation models are available according to AIM3D. The company says that the entire 3D printing process from design to production can be better controlled, components can be optimally designed and at the same time a high reproducibility can be achieved.

AIM3D says that NX enables an exact machine simulation, meaning that traversing speeds, extruder performance and temperatures can be controlled with pinpoint accuracy depending on the component geometry.

Sebastian Kallenberg from Naddcon designed the required steps for the integration, based on a standardised component made of PA6 GF30, the design of which was to be optimised using NX.

The programming was tested on a sample component made of PA6 GF30, thedemonstrator, on the ExAM 255. First, the tool path was generated, then tests were carried out on the machine to identify the optimal process parameters, but also possible errors in the post-processor.


It was possible to apply numerous optimisations to the demonstrator with NX. The user can vary densities, integrate lattice structures to reduce weight, control shrinkage, apply stiffeners, move drill holes to optimally design the entire component and print it with the 3D printer in a qualified manner.

Kallenberg said: “Our digital NX approach is intended to better exploit the CEM machine technology from a design and production preparation point of view. There is considerable potential here for free-form surfaces, that is, real 3D contours, but also bionic design strategies.”

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