Metal additive manufacturing simulation

Predict, validate, and optimize the performance of metal additive parts during the printing process to minimize failures and maximize your additive manufacturing output.

Image courtesy of MJK Performance.

What is additive manufacturing simulation software?

Additive manufacturing simulation software allows you to replicate real-world additive manufacturing processes. The simulation software predicts print outcomes based on the material properties and additive hardware process parameters and can be used to validate up-front engineering work or help optimize processes by visually representing design errors before they occur.

Key benefits of metal additive simulation software

Fusion 360 metal additive simulation

Evaluate additive designs

Evaluate printability, generate support structures, and optimize workspace nesting for more reliable prints.


Minimize print failures

Metal additive simulation software helps you predict print failures, improving the profitability and throughput of your additive manufacturing business.


BBI autosport metal additive manufacturing

Compensate for print distortion

Automatically compensate geometries based on simulation results to achieve the desired shape when your parts are manufactured or 3D printed.


Capabilities of metal additive simulation software

Metal additive hardware and materials can be expensive. Additive manufacturing simulation software can help you minimize print failures and maximize your output, saving time, money, and frustration.

Predict hot spots and lack of fusion

Undesirable thermal effects can lead to poor build quality. Predict regions of a build that could experience temperatures too hot or not hot enough for proper fusion during processing.


Identify and fix recoater interference

Recoater interference is a common cause of failed prints or equipment damage. Metal additive simulation software will highlight areas of potential recoater interference.


Predict support structure failure

Support structures are often required to achieve a successful build with laser powder bed fusion process. Simulation software can aid in design of support structures by predicting potential failure zones.


Finite element mesh adaptivity

The adaptive mesher included in Netfabb simulation uses elements only when necessary and updates the mesh with each time step to minimize compensation time for simulation solutions.


Metal additive manufacturing software

Additive manufacturing and design software—available as Premium, Ultimate and Local Simulation

Cloud-based 3D CAD / CAM / CAE / PCB software for product design.

Multi-scale model for metal laser powder bed fusion simulation

The simulation process involves mapping results from a small-scale moving source thermomechanical simulation on to a part scale thermomechanical simulation. Since this process is fully predictive and physics based, it requires no experimental calibration to achieve accurate results.

Image courtesy of MJK Performance.

Directed energy deposition (DED) simulation

The simulation software can analyze DED for both powder and wire fed systems. The DED process is simulated as a moving source thermomechanical analysis, similar to traditional weld modeling techniques. A novel element formulation and element activation approach, allows for fast simulation of each individual weld bead.

Metal additive manufacturing software frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is metal additive manufacturing?

Metal parts are more commonly created through a subtractive process, which removes material. Metal additive manufacturing means to add material for the purpose of metal part creation. Metal additive materials are generally supplied as wire filaments that are heated prior to application or powders applied to the build surface by force.

What types of metal additive manufacturing processes are supported by Autodesk software?

Autodesk’s Netfabb and Fusion 360 Additive Build Extension simulation software let you replicate real-world metal additive manufacturing processes before going to the expense of physical manufacturing.


When it is time to produce a part, Fusion 360’s Additive Build Extension lets you configure its Manufacture workspace for the most popular metal additive 3D printers. And Fusion 360’s combination of full-featured CAD and CAM abilities allow you to craft a fully hybrid workflow that incorporates design, additive manufacturing, and subtractive surface finishing all within a single environment. Learn more about Fusion 360 Additive Build Extension.


Autodesk Netfabb supplies more extensive control on setting up and simulating your additive builds. Workflow automation, intuitive tools, and the ability to generate unique support structures and lightweight with latticing capabilities improve accuracy of your predictions on build quality and potential failure. Autodesk works with the metal additive machine manufacturers to have an extensive library of workspaces/machines to choose from. Netfabb Local Simulation includes the ability to simulate metal powder bed fusion and direct energy deposition additive processes. Learn more about Autodesk Netfabb.

How can metal additive manufacturing simulation software help optimize the metal additive manufacturing process?

Simulation software helps the metal additive manufacturing process in three ways:

  1. Helps evaluate your design quickly and cheaply: Take your design through as many iterations as you need by simulating print paths, orientations, and supports, cutting down development time.
  2. Minimizes print-stage failures: See where prints will fail in the real world before you leave the design environment, letting you make the necessary adjustments to ensure the best possible performance.
  3. Compensates early: Establish requirement parameters and have your simulation software automatically report data back to your 3D design to ensure it meets them.

Can Autodesk software import and convert CAD files to printable formats for metal 3D printing?

Yes, Autodesk Netfabb and Autodesk Fusion 360 Additive Build Extensions work with 3D CAD native files and can be exported to 3D printable formats for easy printing.

What other types of simulation software are available from Autodesk?

Autodesk simulation solutions include: finite element analysis (FEA), including static stress, nonlinear static stress, quasi-static event simulation, dynamic event simulation, modal frequencies, and structural buckling; thermal (steady state and thermal stress); shape optimization (topology optimization); automated design; generative design; electronics cooling; plastic injection molding; plastic compression molding; computational fluid dynamics (CFD); and CAM toolpath simulation and engineering simualtion

How does metal additive manufacturing simulation software compare to physical testing?

Prototyping with metal is more intensive and expensive than using more common additive materials like polymers. Every time you go back to the drawing board with your design, make an adjustment, and do a new 3D print to test performance, it compounds the delay, material waste, and cost in product testing.


Using simulation software, your part’s performance in the real world will have been comprehensively modeled and tested before you need to build a prototype, taking you from concept to production quickly and for little cost.

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