3D printing for innovative mould making combined with simulation driven design inspiration pushes the limits for high performance castings

Blending engineering technologies leads to innovative design and manufacturing process.

Altair, Click2Cast, HBM nCode and voxeljet have combined design optimisation, casting simulation, fatigue analysis, and 3D printing to create better performing, lightweight vehicle components. Together they present a technology demonstration that stands out with dramatic performance improvements and the solid potential for serial manufacturing and mass production.

“When it comes to speed and capabilities for serial production you might want to look at this process,” said Kevin Smith, Director Global Applications, voxeljet.

“It marks the “rebirth” of one of the oldest manufacturing process available, namely casting! The new process includes moulds made with 3D printing, an entirely new approach to mould making. By using the voxeljet 3D printing process, mould making is dramatically faster and the design freedom this process offers is great. 3D printing the patterns and moulds is potentially the only way we can achieve this level of cast complexity.”


“To leverage the design freedom 3D printing offers to full capacity, the design for the printed piece comes from simulation tools that provide structural inspiration and enable the assessment of manufacturability and durability. The result we have received is very promising. The component is now three to five times stiffer (depending on the load case) than the original design without having to add weight.”

“Another great advantage of this approach is that the manufacturing process is already well established, certified in various industries and is suitable for mass production.”

“Using a milled billet aluminium upright (wheel carrier) for a student racecar to demonstrate the process, designers and engineers from the companies focused on creating a new shape for the wheel carrier that would be equal in mass but would perform significantly better than the original.”

“First, the design space was defined using Inspire, a concept design and optimisation tool based on Altair’s OptiStruct optimisation solver. Then the most severe load cases, such as hard braking, maximum cornering, and driving over bumps, were applied to the model.”

“Because fatigue damage is driven by the component’s entire loading history and not just the maximum load, a fatigue schedule of 35 hours of loading from five different road conditions was developed and imported into nCode DesignLife.”


“Click2Cast (C2C) casting simulation was used at two points – the beginning and end – in the design process allowing the designers to test the manufacturability of the component design and optimise it, avoiding internal defects and analysing critical areas while also reducing iterations between the design and production departments. At the end of the design phase, C2C was used to simulate the full mould filling process and thermal solidification, helping create the most efficient manufacturing method and minimising any waste in energy, time and materials.”

“With optimisation, fatigue analysis, and casting simulation complete, the results were sent to voxeljet for 3D printing of the moulds.”

“The technology demonstration clearly shows the potential this integrated process offers. It is possible to leverage the full potential of lightweight design or, as in this case, significantly improve performance without compromising weight goals.”

“With this wheel carrier component, Altair, our APA partners Click2Cast and nCode, and voxeljet have proven that a paradigm change in how products are developed is possible and already available today.”

For further details contact Fiona Richardson or Gronum Smith of Altair South Africa on TEL: 021 831 1500, email frichardson@altair.co.za or visit www.altair.com