3D Software

Vericut software used to simulate Thermwood’s LSAM hybrid 3D printers

CGTech, a California-based CNC machine software developer, has partnered with Indiana’s Thermwood Corporation to simulate both the additive manufacturing and subtractive machining capabilities of Thermwood’s Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) technology.

LSAM machines leverage both additive and subtractive manufacturing heads to produce its large scale thermoplastic parts. Combined with CGTech’s VERICUT simulation software, the partners aim to verify and optimize the tool path of LSAM systems: “We have over 55 patented features (and over a dozen more pending) that set the LSAM apart from any other large scale additive system available today,” explains Dennis Palmer, Vice President of Sales at Thermwood. “Features like our chilled roller wheel, vertical layer printing system and LSAM Print 3D software make us the clear leader in large scale additive manufacturing.”

“VERICUT is an important tool to use with LSAM.  It assures that the tool path is correct, eliminating the possibility of expensive mishaps.”

Applications of LSAM 3D printing

Based in the U.S., Thermwood is a CNC machinery manufacturer that launched its line of LSAM 3D printers to the market in 2016. Utilizing patented technology, LSAM has been developed for the large scale 3D printing of thermoplastic polymers. The machines leverage subtractive technology as well as additive in order to trim prints into large scale “near net shape” parts on the same system. LSAM 3D printers are available in Dual Gantry and Moving Table models, in a variety of sizes.

Thanks to its capabilities, Thermwood’s 3D printers have been used for a number of large scale applications across a variety of industries. It is particularly suited for manufacturing autoclave capable tooling or compression molds for thermoset materials. For example, in early 2019, Thermwood produced a large autoclave capable tool for American aerospace manufacturer Bell Helicopter Textron In using its LSAM technology. The tool was produced to mold and develop blades for Bell’s helicopters. Later that year, LSAM technology was also used to 3D print autoclave tools for aerospace components in collaboration with the U.S. Air Force and Boeing

A section of a 3D printed fuselage skin. Photo via Thermwood.
A section of a 3D printed fuselage skin. Photo via Thermwood.

Optimizing additive and subtractive processes

CGTech first released its Vericut CNC machining simulation software in 1988. The program is used to simulate toolpath motion and the material removal process, detecting errors or areas of inefficiency. It can also be used to simulate additive manufacturing using an additional module. This can help to verify the 3D printing process will work and the finished part matches the intended engineered design.

The software’s capabilities of simulating both adding and cutting material makes its an ideal solution for verification, simulation and optimization of LSAM machines, according to CGTech’s VERICUT Product Manger, Gene Granata: “CGTech is thrilled to be working closely with the Thermwood team to provide the highest degree of simulation possible for their large scale additive machines. VERICUT’s Additive and hybrid simulation software is a perfect match for the LSAM’s highly versatile and capable environment.”

Simulation of Thermwood's 3D printing process. Image via CGTech.
Simulation of Thermwood’s 3D printing process. Image via CGTech.

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Featured image shows s imulation of Thermwood’s 3D printing process. Image via CGTech.