How Engineering Teams Learn to Think Differently About Design to Realize the Full Benefits of AM

One of the great benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) is that it removes many manufacturing limitations and allows for more complex designs while producing less waste. However, developers may initially feel challenged due to the overwhelming freedom this provides and must think differently about what and how they design. Tim Simpson, director of the Additive Manufacturing & Design graduate program at Penn State, recently took a deep dive into design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) on IMTS spark in his session, “DFAM Beyond the Basics: How Engineering Teams Learn to Think Differently About Design to Realize the Full Benefits of AM.”

During his session, Simpson discussed the three phases of DFAM, moving from restrictive DFAM to opportunistic DFAM, and how they compare: replicating with AM if a part is already determined and its design is fixed; adapting to AM when the design can be modified to create a part; and designing to optimize AM when a new part is being designed from scratch. Companies commonly go through these phases as they get started with AM and learn through experience how best to use the technology. Startup companies sometimes start immediately by designing to optimize AM, whereas companies with legacy parts typically do not.

Simpson overviewed the major DFAM design guidelines that have been developed by leading companies in only the past year or two, including guides by EOS, 3D Systems, Xometry, 3D Hubs, and Protolabs, and which function as rulebooks for specific printing machines and specific processes on what not to do, or, for example, “the 10 things that will always trip you up.” He showed some of these guidelines and provided URLs to all of them, including the “Guidelines for DFAM” released last year by ISO/AST. Simpson then took us through several representative worksheets that expedited AM such as that developed by Joran Booth at Purdue, whose worksheet reduced poorly designed parts by 81%, and a recent powder bed fusion worksheet. It is easier to learn, use, and recall restrictive guidelines than opportunistic guidelines.

Simpson reviewed several DFAM use cases and discussed key factors that optimize AM, including saving weight, combining functions, internal features, designed surfaces, design flexibility, and tailored materials. On the subject of opportunistic DFAM, he discussed the DFAM sequence his group developed to help companies navigate these benefits, including topology optimization, combining functions, and internal channels, including sensors and channels. Lastly, he outlined teaching opportunities of DFAM and summarized the innovative research and projects that the Center for Innovative Materials Processing Through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D) is doing in State College, Pennsylvania, including work with heat exchangers, part consolidation, lattice structures, and dissolvable metal supports.

For more information or to watch the on-demand IMTS spark session at your leisure, simply log on to IMTS spark or follow this link: https://directory.imts.com/8_0/sessions/session-details.cfm?scheduleid=11.