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Three Design Strategies for Additive Manufacturing

It’s possible to reproduce existing designs via metal additive manufacturing. But the greatest benefits come from designing intentionally with additive in mind.

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Manufacturers face a choice of directly replacing an existing part (left), adapting it for AM or designing it specifically for AM. In this example, the adapted part saved 78 percent of the original and replacement part's mass. The DFAM part saved 91 percent.

Additive manufacturing (AM) can reproduce parts designed for more conventional methods like machining or injection molding, but is that the best use of the technology for production? Marc Saunders, director of global solutions centers for Renishaw, sees reproduction of existing parts as just one way of deploying additive manufacturing.

In a presentation delivered at the 2016 Additive Manufacturing Conference, Mr. Saunders outlined three approaches to additive manufacturing for production. They are:

  1. Direct part replacement. This strategy means additively manufacturing a part that is close to its conventional counterpart in fit, form and function. In this plan, the only real change is the manufacturing process.
  2. Adaptation. Adapting for additive manufacturing means changing the form of the part as well as the manufacturing process, and streamlining it somewhat. This may include consolidating assemblies or modifying geometries.
  3. Design for AM (DFAM). DFAM means completely rethinking the part, including the way that it functions in or as an end product. This could mean lightweighting structures, leveraging topological optimization, increasing surface area, providing mass customization or incorporating other improvements.

It is the last strategy, DFAM, that stands to provide the greatest benefit to manufacturers in production as well as end users. Learn more in this blog post from Additive Manufacturing, sister publication to Modern Machine Shop.

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