Figure: Resource-efficient additive manufacturing

Additive processes enable the production of components from a formless powder material without geometry-specific tools. The rapid further development of the processes means that industrial companies are increasingly making use of this technology and setting up additive process chains in-house. The fact that the manufacturing process is a batch process and that a significant proportion of the powder material is to be reused results in new, complex process chains for both the finished parts and the starting material.

Methods of material flow simulation can be used to plan, design and validate the multi-layered processes with regard to different order planning, existing capacities (production facilities, personnel, warehouse, etc.) and component-specific requirements. Particular attention is paid to the powder cycle, which must be mapped in detail with regard to various preparation strategies and quality requirements.

The first step is to record the data on-site at the industrial company. In addition to the machine data and the layout, the production strategy and the weighted optimization criteria must also be recorded. A simulation model is then built and verified by comparison with reality. Based on this status, possible changes can then be simulated and evaluated. The future process chain can be designed based on the predicted throughput times, warehouse occupancy, plant utilization, and other factors.