To evaluate the thermal deformation induced by 3D Printing (Three Dimensional Printing) process, a novel meshless analysis procedure is established. To account for the heat transfer and solidification effects of each printing layer from liquid to solid phase transition, the layer temperature is measured by the implanted thermocouples. Based on the temperature variation measured, the printing layer temperature can be averaged and considered as uniform for thermal analysis. In addition, as observed by the deformation of the printed target through experiment, only linear thermal elastic analysis is performed.
A rigorous algorithm for simulating the 3D Printing process is presented herein. Since the interpolation functions are no longer polynomials, a simple integration scheme using uniform integration points is applied to calculate the global stiffness matrix. Thus, the density and location of the integration points can be easily adjusted to fulfill the required accuracy. Further, for practical implementation, the simulation is also carried out by the concept of equivalent layer.
Demonstrative cases of printing a rectangular PLA (Polylactic Acid) brick are tackled to prove the accuracy and efficiency of the proposed meshless analysis procedure. The effects of layer thickness, equivalent layer and slenderness ratio on the thermal deformation of the printed brick are also investigated.