An interesting research project being performed by Roger Tipton is the digital simulation of the plastic material in an FDM 3D printer nozzle as a part is being printed. We are trying to better understand how the performance of finished products is a result of extrusion nozzle design, process conditions and raw material properties.
This is an complex simulation that is too large to be done on just a desktop machine and is being conducted on a small High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster of 7 nodes, with 12 Xeon E5649 cores with 7 GPU’s (video cards) and a total of 48 GB of RAM. Simulations like this, where there are multiple materials that we are using a multi-physics approach of looking at heat transfer and computation fluid dynamics require more power to process in a reasonable time frame. They are becoming more and more frequent as new products become more complex, product requirements are more strict and timelines are compressed. Simulation becomes the best tool to better understand performance in this new environment.