Columns From: 6/22/2012 Automotive Design & Production

Renishaw's additive-metal manufacturing system; Maplesoft's technical computing software; INUS Tech's reverse engineering software.

 Renishaw Melting Point

Renishaw’s ( new melting additive-metal manufacturing systems, the AM125 and the AM250, produce fully dense metal parts from 3D CAD data via fiber lasers. Those parts are assembled by melting multiple layers, each with thicknesses between 20 and 100 microns (about the same width as the proverbial human hair). The AM125 provides a part-build volume of 125 x 125 x 125 mm (X, Y, Z), with the option of a choice of 100- or 200-W laser. The AM250 offers a 250 x 250 x 300-mm (X, Y, Z) volume with Z-axis extendable to 360 mm; it uses a 200- or 400-W laser. Both have build rates of 5 to 20 cm3 per hour, depending on the material and the part geometry. 

The AM125 uses a cassette materials delivery system, while the AM250 has a removable hopper. The systems are built with 316L and 17-4PH SS, H13 tool steel, aluminum Al-Si-12, titanium CP, Ti-6Al-4V and 7Nb, cobalt-chrome (ASTM75), and Inconel 718 and 625. Both systems are designed for quick material changeover. To up the productivity, a valve interlock on the AM250 lets users add more powder while the process is running.

The systems can operate at oxygen concentrations below 50 ppm, key to processing reactive materials. Both systems have a welded vacuum chamber that enables low-pressure material cleanup with an argon gas recharge. Here’s where Renishaw says its customers can save: The soft re-coater blade can be rotated several times before replacement, the use of low-cost filter elements, and low gas consumption.


Rapidform XOR: Faster Still 


INUS Technology’s ( latest Rapidform XOR reverse engineering software is said to cut modeling time by as much as half. The software, which includes 3D scan data processing and parametric solid modeling, creates CAD models for use on SolidWorks, PTC Creo (Pro/E), Siemens NX, CATIA V4/V5, AutoCAD, and Autodesk Inventor, platforms. 

XOR-created designs are easy to transfer into CAD, and are more easily edited than surface-based models, according to the company. Specifically, the scanning software, which enables CAD modeling from point cloud and polygon mesh data sets, offers process efficiencies, including “Quick Modeling.” It can define the dimensions of a scanned part automatically, generate a sketch and then extrude, revolve, loft or sweep to build the feature with a few clicks, according to INUS. 


Drag, Drop, Solve for X

The new Maple 16 technical computing software from Maplesoft ( has 4,500 additions and enhancements, including the Drag-to-Solve function that now allows users to manipulate equations directly. It helps users solve equations step-by-step by picking up a term and dragging it to the other side of the equal sign to solve problems one step at a time. The software shows its work by keeping a record of the steps used to reach a solution. 
As part of its Clickable Math collection, the Drag-to-Solve and Smart Popups are included in palettes, interactive assistants, equation-focused menus and tutors. Smart Popups instantly show mathematical identities, plots, and factorizations. Over 100 new Math Apps to provide insight into concepts from math, statistics, physics, and finance. Clickable Math tools that provide a point-and-click interface for solving, visualizing, and exploring mathematical problems.