Physically accurate modeling of powder-based additive manufacturing (AM) processes can play an enabling role for both the certification and qualification as well as the functional tailoring of materials produced by these processes. In an effort to address these needs in a computationally efficient and physically realistic manner, this paper presents the initial efforts towards the development of a methodology for simulating polydisperse particle-based AM processes by the use of the Multiphysics Discrete Element Method (MDEM). We discuss the formulation of a DEM framework for addressing the unique multiphysics behavior of AM materials and processes. In particular, we focus on coupled thermo-mechanical effects that result in residual strains and deformation. The MDEM approach is demonstrated on several test problems involving laser sintering of metal powders. The paper concludes with a discussion on how this approach may be generalized to broader classes of AM systems, and details are given regarding future work that must be accomplished in order to further develop the present methodology.

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