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Design for additive manufacturing: Guidelines & case studies for metal AM

The Government of Canada recently commissioned the Fraunhofer Institute to deliver a report ‘Design for Additive Manufacturing (AM) – Guidelines and Case Studies for Metal AM’. The goal of the report is the help Canadian companies and researchers take advantage of existing knowledge in metal AM.

The report is based on seven components each tailored to the specific needs of the chosen AM technology. It identifies leading edge industrial applications and trends associated with the design for AM and limitations related to current AM technologies. The evaluation of the seven case studies highlights general design principles to take best advantage of the powder bed based additive manufacturing techniques Laser Beam Melting (LBM) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM).

1. Bionic Wheel Carrier of Electric Vehicle – Automotive / Motorsports

2. Main Gearbox Bracket – Aerospace

3. Calibration Tool for Extrusion Process –  Energy

4. Heat Exchanger – Energy

5. Miniature Heat Exchanger / Cooler – Not limited to specific industry

6. Functionally integrated Implant – Medical

7. Functionally integrated Tooling Segment – Tooling

Compared to conventional manufacturing methods additive manufacturing technologies provide unique opportunities and freedom in design, resulting in a high degree of product individualisation. Building parts layer by layer without using any tooling, moulds or dies enables the design and manufacturing of very complex component geometry, such as lattice structures or free formed surfaces and organic shapes.

Hinge assembly manufactured in one shot with LBM (Source: Fraunhofer IWU)

Design attributes like undercuts are no longer a limitation and with the aid of topology optimisation the component geometry can be tailored to the specific needs of application. In addition to it, features and functionalities can be incorporated into a part just during the manufacturing process in one shot and assemblies consisting of many components can be reduced to a single part. Even the assembling of different parts during primary shaping with AM technologies is possible, which has already been demonstrated for components like bearings, chains, hinges.

Moreover, the design optimisation and material characterisation are analysed. Finally, there are given overall conclusions with focus on AM-specific design optimisation, main flaws and weaknesses of the considered metal AM processes as well as aspects of AM commercialisation.

Example for topology optimisation – skateboard axle mounting, manufactured with LBM (Source: Fraunhofer IWU)

Skateboard Truck (Titanium) , LBM design demonstrator with topology optimisation and graded lattice structures (Source: Philipp Manger)

This is a small sample of what is available in this comprehensive report. We invite you to download this report and take full advantage of the know-how on offer.

Download the full report here.

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