Project Code: 35476
Start date and planned duration: February 2023, 18 months
- To investigate and analyse fundamental techniques for effortless support removal.
- To evaluate the various support and process parameters used in metal Additive Manufacturing
- To propose optimised support structures capable of producing non-defective parts while printing and post-processing.
- To design optimised support geometries that consume the minimum material required while reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
- To develop a web application for support structures design and generation based on data received through testing and experimentation.
Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) for metals is one of the most commonly used and rapidly developing Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies capable of producing complex, thin, and lightweight components, in contrast to traditional manufacturing, which limits those characteristics. However, because of the nature of 3D printing to fabricate parts in a layer-by-layer manner, this technology faces difficulties with regard to the construction of overhang structures and the warping deformation caused by thermal stresses. In LPBF support structures are always required, thus, producing overhangs without support structures results in collapsed parts while adding unnecessary supports increases the material required and post-processing.
This project will build on top of our expertise on LPBF-based AM, software development, design for AM, and data-driven optimisation to develop a web-based decision support platform for the optimisation of support structures towards ease of removal and zero-defect laser-based parts. The proposed platform will give the user an indication of the ease of removal when designing support structures while maintaining the support volume and the risk of warpage to a minimum.
Benefits to Industry
Through this project, we aspire to achieve:
- Drastically decrease the time needed to remove support structures, resulting in the rapid uptake of LPBF as a production method.
- Reduce the number of parts that get damaged during post-processing.
- Increase the probability of successful printing of parts with zero defects.
- Reduce CO2 emissions via the optimisation of support volume and support placement, resulting in just the right amount of support material.
- Develop a web application to facilitate independent decision workflows for support design and generation, introducing to the industry an innovative tool for effortless, reliable, and sustainable AM.