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Minimization and Removal of Support Structures

by Botao Zhang last modified 2016-08-29 14:43

  • Optimum Support Structure Generation for Additive Manufacturing using Unit Cell Structures
  • Due to the inherent nature of the process, support structures are required to support overhanging features while building a part by AM. Support Structures increase the build time and cost of manufacturing and also have an adverse effect on the surface finish of the part. A new approach is presented for minimizing support structures using space filling cellular structures in conjunction with Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm to generate optimized support structures. This not only reduces a amount of material used during manufacturing but also saves build time and sintering energy.

    Figure: Support generation using cellular structures

  • Optimal Part Orientation to Minimize the Support Structures
  • This research work analyzes the effect of part orientation on two types of form errors, namely, cylindricity and flatness errors.
    An algorithm to calculate the optimal orientation for minimizing flatness and cylindricity errors is developed and tested with the help of two test cases. However, an optimal orientation for minimum form errors may result in a greater utilization of support structures which increases the material consumption in LM processes and therefore should be avoided.
    A voxel-based approach for calculating support structures has been developed in this paper which is then applied to minimize the volume of support structures while minimizing the cylindricity and flatness errors of the part features.

    Figure: (a)Voxel approach to calculate support structure volume; (b)Quadtree decomposition of test part and Support Structure Generation

  • Optimal Part Orientation based on Support Structure Removal Accessibility
  • This study presents a methodology to identify the best part build orientation for a part such that, the need of support structure is minimized while ensuring maximum removal of support.
    A hierarchical octree data structure has been used to perform accessibility analysis to analyze maximum removal of support. A novel octree traversal lookup table has been developed for this purpose.
    A multi-objective optimization routine identifies the optimal build orientation.

    Figure: Octree based Support Structure Accessibility Analysis

  • Support Structure Accessibility using Ray-Tracing Approach
  • A novel ray-tracing based approach is developed to determine the accessibility of the support structure for removal during post processing. This algorithm can be useful in identifying the optimum process parameters ahead of time. A tool is developed in Matlab based on this approach to calculate support accessibility of any part at a given build orientation.

    Figure: Support structure accessibility calculation using ray tracing approach

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