Knowledge Center


Design Issues

Additive manufacturing makes possible designs that could not be achieved any other way. Lightweight, organic forms made additively will be key to enabling the next generation of electric vehicles, aircraft and spacecraft, as well as mass customized products like glasses, shoes and implants that can be designed to fit each specific customer or patient. To achieve these freedoms, though, additive manufacturing requires robust software for design.

Two common design strategies used in conjunction with 3D printing are topology optimization and generative design. A topology optimization strategy works to remove material within a given build envelope to arrive at the most efficient design that still serves the required purpose. Generative design, by contrast, aims to place material only where needed to meet the requirements. In a nutshell, the former reduces the part to its final form, while the latter grows it.


Aetrex ccustom insoles

Conventional shoe insoles are made by layering multiple materials together that support the foot uniformly. In contrast, Aetrex can produce custom insoles like these using just two materials (a conventional sock liner and flexible 3D printed TPU); this “digital foam” approach (developed by EOS) varies the geometry of the lattices throughout the insole to provide different levels of support.

Generative Design to Bring Weight and Cost Savings for Micromobility FUV

This article explores a case where conventionally made components for an electric vehicle, Arcimoto’s Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV), were reimagined with a generative design tool. The weight savings made possible by this combination will ultimately lead to a longer battery life and greater range for the FUV.



Topology Optimization vs. Generative Design

Design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) goes beyond design for manufacturing (DFM). It's not just about creating a part that can be 3D printed, but one that takes advantage of 3D printing's unique benefits.


Weight-Saving Benefits of AM

This steering knuckle for the Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV), a next-generation electric car, illustrates the assembly consolidation and weight-saving benefits of additive manufacturing. The original design (right) is made up of multiple pieces welded together; redesigning this component for AM resulted in a lighter weight design that can be printed in just one piece (left; redesigned by ParaMatters, made in an EOS metal 3D printer and powder finished).


Build Preparation and Parameters

Many additive manufacturers rely on build simulation to check parameters and identify errors before they happen.

Validating Quality

There are two main challenges to ensuring quality in 3D printed parts: inspecting and validating final parts, and controlling the process itself.


Most 3D printed parts will require postprocessing following the print and it is important to account for any anticipated postprocessing in the design stage.