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Design for additive manufacturing and the AM Center's virtual testbed

In the virtual testbed, which is part of the AM Center, DfAM (Design for Additive Manufacturing) is applied in a broad sense as "part and process design for additive manufacturing". In other words, it involves the interaction between the functional design of a component and its manufacturing process.

The image below illustrates the entire development chain. In the virtual testbed, we focus on the first two boxes; what happens before manufacturing, that is.

A typical development chain for additive manufacturing.

Complexity and performance requirements vital to process

In the development process, different emphasis is placed on the different parts depending on the complexity and performance requirements of the intended component concept. Traditional design is always done with CAD (Computer Aided Design). In more complex cases, one can enhance the analysis by using tools for numerical analysis, CAE (Computer Aided Engineering), such as Topology Optimization. The difference compared to CAD is that in this case, the geometric model is supplemented with a physical material model as well as loads and boundary conditions. This procedure is common in the industry and is also applied within the AM Center. Component concept development places great importance on considering the manufacturing method, including process adaptation at the component level.

Competence, hardware (computer resources), and software covering all steps in the development process described below are available at the AM Center. Partner companies Hexagon and Materialize provide software for design, simulation, and preparation. RISE researchers, together with the center's partners and customers, handle everything from shorter assignments to multi-year research projects on this topic.

Advanced product development chain

Here is what a more advanced product development chain can look like, divided into Simulation-driven part design with manufacturing constraints and Component-level process design.

1. Simulation-driven part design with manufacturing constraints

The design is focused on the component's critical operational or failure states.

Early-stage product development, concept development

2. Component-level process design

Once a promising concept starts to converge, detailed design begins. Both calculation models and loads are made more high-resolution to meet the performance requirements, at least virtually.

The next step is process design, where the process is adapted to the component. For a manufacturing method like PBF-LB (Powder Bed Fusion - Laser Beam), this means adjusting the orientation, support structure, and process parameters to achieve the expected quality of the component.

In cases that are large, complex, or have high-quality requirements, it may be worth predicting the physical behaviour and any deviations and defects by using process modelling and simulation. In some cases, adjustments to the component geometry may be needed, and in that case, one can go back and adjust the component geometry, as illustrated below with the large loop.

Detailed design and process design

Finally, it should be emphasized that not all concepts require such detailed analysis.


Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on design for additive manufacturing and the AM Center's virtual testbed.

David Ohlsson

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David Ohlsson


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