Unveiled in November 2022, Solukon SPR-Pathfinder® software is a direct response to the increasingly complex nature of 3D-printed metal parts.
With the ever-growing complexity of powder-based applications, the demands on industrial depowdering also grow. To help resolve this, automated depowdering experts and Turbex partner, Solukon, introduced its Digital-Factory-Tool in 2021 – a combined sensor and interface kit aimed at improving quality assurance and automation integration.
In late 2022, Solukon took another huge step in the development of intelligent depowdering with SPR-Pathfinder® software.
What is SPR-Pathfinder®, and how does it work?
To help effectively remove excess powder from complex internal structures, the software uses a build job’s CAD file to calculate the optimal motion sequence for the machine to use. With this ideal path calculated, the powder is able to flow out completely.
- SPR-Pathfinder® uses a part’s digital twin to optimise post-processing.
- Calculations are based on a flow simulation that analyses this digital twin.
- The motion sequence is then read by the Solukon system, which in turn runs the programmed paths.
The result? Expert cleaning of even the most complex parts, all in record time and all without any human programming.
“In contrast to conventional manufacturing processes, 3D printing uses the part’s digital twin. To date, however, this was only utilised during the printing itself. With SPR-Pathfinder®, the part’s digital twin can now also be used during depowdering. This is how we ensure that the potential of the digital twin can be used to the fullest in post-processing as well,” says Andreas Hartmann, CEO/CTO of Solukon.
Developed in tandem with technology giant Siemens
SPR-Pathfinder® started life as SiDAM, a joint technology project and software co-developed by Solukon and Siemens technology.
The initial idea for the software was developed by Dr. Christopher Kiener, Principal Key Expert on Functional Design for Manufacturing at Siemens Technology. According to Dr. Kiener, “vibration-excited powder behaves almost like a fluid when it flows out”. It was this idea, says Kiener, that led to the realisation that path identification and particle and flow simulation would help increase depowdering efficiency.
After acquiring exclusive rights to the software and developing it into a Solukon product, licences for SPR-Pathfinder® are now available for Solukon customers to purchase.
“It’s a logical step for us to license the depowdering software exclusively to Solukon”, says Dr. Gerog Bodammer, Senior Venture Director at Siemens Technology Accelerator, “this way, customers can get everything from a single
source: the market-leading depowdering system and the exclusive, intelligent software.”
Testing the software
Before Solukon launched the product to the market, several pilot customers (including Siemens Energy in Berlin) helped test the effectiveness of SPR-Pathfinder®.
The AM team at Siemens Energy Berlin manufactured hot parts in series and used a Solukon SFM-AT800-S for depowdering prior to the testing. According to the AM team, the technology helped to both ensure cleanliness and save time.
“With SPR-Pathfinder®, we can depowder in series without any manual programming. The parts are guaranteed to be clean and this guarantee, in turn, allows us complete freedom in part design. Furthermore, we save a lot of time, which we can then dedicate to other value-adding activities in the manufacturing process,” says Julius Schurb, Project Leader for IDEA (Industrialization of Digital Engineering and Additive Manufacturing) at Siemens Energy.
Can I use SPR-Pathfinder®?
The software runs on your company’s PCs, not the Cloud. Each license is bound to an individual device.
SPR-Pathfinder® works in 5 simple steps:
- Upload the CAD file in .STL format to SPR-Pathfinder®.
- Set calculation parameters, including information on the material and desired waiting times for directions of motion.
- Specify file storage.
- Start the calculation.
- Transfer the cleaning program to the Solukon system via USB or OPC UA (optional).
Solukon offers a free 30-day trial of SPR-Pathfinder®. If you’re interested in seeing how the software works for yourself, get in touch with the team.