Support Visualization and Parameter Calculation
Installation and Instruction Manual: Support Parameters
Support Parameters module is used to visualize the presence of support structures needed to build the part for a user-input build orientation. This tool provides quick feedback on support structures as well as calculates parameters such as support volume, support contact area, build height, and down-facing areas (areas that do not need support structures). Because this module is developed to visualize the support structures for a particular orientation, the support structures are represented as lines for faster calculations.
1. Download and extract the contents of the .zip file named Support Parameter.zip.
2. Open the extracted folder named Support Parameter.
3. Open the folder named ug_customization. Right click on the Windows Batch File named nx and open with Notepad/Notepad++.
4. Find the current file path of the nx file in your computer (Right click >> Properties). Copy the file path and paste it in the first line (the highlighted portion in the notepad as shown below).
5. Change the version of Siemens NX to the one you are using (module works for Siemens NX 10.0, 11.0, and 12.0) in the third line of the notepad file (as highlighted below).
Once these steps are carried out, you have completed the installation procedures before launching the application.
6. Now, double-click nx to launch the Windows Batch File. This will launch the Siemens NX window and a terminal window (you can minimize it or close it – it contains the information you input in steps 4 and 5). You may notice the UC AM Modules tab in the top toolbar. Click on it. The Support Parameters module will be visible.
7. Before using the module, user is supposed to import/create a Parasolid File of a part within Siemens NX. For illustration purposes, the Part File (. prt) and Parasolid File (.x_t) is given in the folder named Example Parts. Import the Parasolid file into Siemens NX. Follow the step mentioned below to import a Parasolid file of the part.
Open >> (Choose the file location of Support Parameter Folder) >> Example Parts >> SiemensPart2.x_t >> Ok
8. Once the file is opened in Siemens NX, you can click on Support Parameter button on the Command Ribbon. The button will look like Figure 1 below.
9. The Support Parameter GUI is shown in the adjacent figure. The detailed explanation of each option in the GUI is given below.
a. Select Body
This option is used to select the body for which support structures need to be visualized.
b. Rotation along X axis
Rotation along X axis (value to be entered in degrees) will rotate the selected part along the X axis.
c. Rotation along Y axis
Rotation along Y axis (value to be entered in degrees) will rotate the selected part along the Y axis.
It is the angle between the part surface normal and the build direction (Z axis). The default value is set to 135 degrees.
e. Overhang Length
Overhang length is the center-to-center distance between two adjacent support columns (square cross-section). It is also the side length of the cross section of the support column (square cross-section). Values ranging from 1.00 to 4.00 are optimal. A lower value will take longer computational time due to more number of support structures. A higher value of overhang length will generate fewer support structures making the solution sub-optimal.
f. Support Type
Solid Support: Each support column generated will be solid.
Hollow Support: Each support column is hollow (thickness can be entered in option
Surface Support: Support columns are surfaces with no thickness. The minimum thickness for support structures will be the laser diameter used to sinter the material powder using DMLS.
g. Hollow Thickness
This value provides thickness to hollow support structures.
h. Add Teeth
Check this box if you want to create support structures with a tooth at the support to part contact region. Removal of support structures with teeth is easy and will not damage the parts during post-processing. The contact area of support structures will be less if this option is selected.
i. Gap Between Supports
This is the side-to-side gap between two adjacent support columns. Default value is given as 1 mm. The gap between supports should always be less than the value you input in Overhang Length
j. Teeth Length
Teeth length is the side dimension of the top side of the teeth (as shaded by red in the figure). A value of zero teeth length means the support contact region is a point. Thus, the support contact area calculated will be 0 mm^2.
10. The output window of the Support Parameter module is shown below. The results consist of build height, support contact area, support volume and the down facing areas. Down facing areas are inclined regions of the part that does not need support structures.
Please watch the video tutorial of the module conducted on an example part given with the module.
Use the Parasolid File named SiemensPart1.x_t in the Example Parts folder attached in the Support Parameter module folder that you have extracted from the website.
Try out the following input configurations to note the changes in Build Height, Support Contact Area, Support Volume, and Down Facing Areas
- Rotate the part along X axis by 35 degrees and rotate the part along Y axis by 50 degrees Set Threshold to default value (135 degrees). Input Overhang Length as 2.00 mm.
- Select Solid Support and set Gap Between Support as 1.00 mm
- Select Hollow Support and set Hollow Thickness to 1.00 mm
- Select Surface Support
- Select Solid Support and check the Add Teeth Option. Set the Teeth Length as 0.5 mm
- Rotate the part along X axis by 45 degrees and rotate the part along Y axis by 30 degrees Set Threshold to default value (135 degrees). Input Overhang Length as 3.5 mm.
- Select Solid Support and set Gap Between Support as 2.00 mm
- Select Hollow Support and set Hollow Thickness to 2.00 mm
- Select Surface Support
- Select Solid Support and check the Add Teeth Option. Set the Teeth Length as 1.5 mm