Optimization techniques can be used to design geometrically complex components with a wide variety of optimization criteria. However, such components have been very difficult and costly to produce. Layered fabrication technologies such as electron beam melting (EBM) open up new possibilities though. This paper seeks to investigate the integration of structural optimization and direct metal fabrication process.
Mesh structures were designed, and optimization problems were defined to improve structural performance. Finite element analysis code in conjunction with nonlinear optimization routines were used in MATLAB. Element data were extracted from an STL‐file, and output structures from the optimization routine were manufactured using an EBM machine. Original and optimized structures were tested and compared.
There were discrepancies between the performance of the theoretical structures and the physical EBM structures due to the layered fabrication approach. A scaling factor was developed to account for the effect of layering on the material properties.
Structural optimization can be used to improve the performance of a design, and direct fabrication technologies can be used to realise these structures. However, designers must realize that fabricated structures are not identical to idealized CAD structures, hence material properties much be adjusted accordingly.
Integration of structural optimization and direct metal fabrication was reported in the paper. It shows the process from design through manufacturing with integrated analysis.
Cansizoglu, O., Harrysson, O.L.A., West, H.A., Cormier, D.R. and Mahale, T. (2008), "Applications of structural optimization in direct metal fabrication", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 114-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552540810862082
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