Since our last software release article, Gen3D has released a host of new features and improvements to Sulis Lattice and Sulis Flow. Culminating in V1.10 which was released in March 2022, these new features give users unparalleled design freedoms for additive manufacturing. In the Lattice module, new features include custom unit cells, node inflation, stochastic surface lattices and uniform holes and bumps. In the Flow module, fractals are the key new feature, a much-anticipated capability for our customers involved in hydraulics. Read on to find out more about Sulis’s newest features.
Custom unit cells
New to the latest release of Sulis V1.10 (March 2022) is the ability for users to create and save their own custom unit strut lattice cells. Since the set of possible lattice unit cells is essentially infinite, this opens up a whole new range of design opportunities, from tailoring mechanical properties to creating a variety of metamaterials including auxetic structures. Users of Sulis can now design a lattice structure to suit the requirements of the product such as acoustics, energy absorption, fluid flow, thermal management and much more.
A unit cell is the basic building block from which lattices are constructed. All lattice structures are generated by the repetition of a unit cell in different directions and the most common way to start designing lattice structures is from a unit cell that is repeated many times, into the volume or onto the surface of the part being designed. Since a unit cell can be complex, it’s ideal to have DfAM software that enables an engineer/designer to create their own cells and adjust them as they progress with their designs.
There are thousands of pre-existing custom unit cells that AM designers can copy and paste into Sulis. Or they can create their own. Users of Sulis can save the custom unit cells that they like working with and use them anytime they want. It is possible to modify a unit cell’s coordinate system, spatially vary its strut diameter, make them hollow and more. It’s also easy to share unit cells with other users.
This new feature is already of great interest to many research departments globally in aerospace, automotive, performance boat/yacht racing, cycling and many more industries that want to go beyond lightweighting.
“More features and more customizability when it comes to Lattice structures helps our customers design and build a wider range of applications, and that is a good thing.” says Wesley Essink, CTO of Gen3D.
Stochastic surface lattices
In November 2021, stochastic surface lattices were added to the Lattice Module of Sulis. This complements stochastic strut lattices, which we released earlier in 2021. Stochastic strut lattices are widely used in medical devices, energy absorption, and surface texturing applications, whereas stochastic surface lattices have only recently been discovered. They work by adding randomness to the surface-based unit cell across a volume. Their isotropic properties have advantages over uniform lattice structures because they absorb equal amounts of energy independent of the impact direction.
This is going to have a big impact on the area of energy absorption. Stochastic strut lattices are also isotropic but are not as easy to 3D print as this new lattice type. This new type of lattice (stochastic surface lattice) has been extremely challenging to design in CAD so now that it’s more widely available we’re excited to see what applications are developed over the next year.
Node inflation and uniform holes and bumps
Sulis Lattice also now gives designers the option to add a node inflation factor to strut lattices and also the ability to create uniform surface holes/bumps within the Lattice. Surface holes/bumps are useful for surface texturing, creating drain holes for powder/resin, creating moulds for moulded pulp and many other applications. Both of these new features give designers yet another level of design control and complexity for additively manufactured parts.
Fractals are a key new feature in the Sulis Flow module which is essentially a uniform way of distributing fluid. Using Sulis’s drag and drop features, it’s incredibly easy to create fractals. For instance, you can create quite complex fractal splitters or flow distributors in a few seconds which are quite challenging to create in other advanced manufacturing design software and difficult to achieve in CAD. This offers unparalleled design freedoms for additive manufacturing, for instance, since the new fractals feature has been released, many customers who use AM-Pro, (both Flow and Lattice modules) have used it alongside lattice structures to create some complex yet effective heat exchangers. The image above shows a planar heat exchanger with inlet pipes for one of the fluids. Fractals can be used for heat exchangers, manifolding, weight distribution, flow mixing, and laboratory tools.