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Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering >> 2015, Volume 10, Issue 2 doi: 10.1007/s11465-015-0340-3

An identification method for enclosed voids restriction in manufacturability design for additive manufacturing structures

1. State Key Laboratory of Structural Analysis for Industrial Equipment, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, China.

2. School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Accepted: 2015-06-24 Available online: 2015-07-14

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Additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, such as selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling (FDM), have become the powerful tools for direct manufacturing of complex parts. This breakthrough in manufacturing technology makes the fabrication of new geometrical features and multiple materials possible. Past researches on designs and design methods often focused on how to obtain desired functional performance of the structures or parts, specific manufacturing capabilities as well as manufacturing constraints of AM were neglected. However, the inherent constraints in AM processes should be taken into account in design process. In this paper, the enclosed voids, one type of manufacturing constraints of AM, are investigated. In mathematics, enclosed voids restriction expressed as the solid structure is simply-connected. We propose an equivalent description of simply-connected constraint for avoiding enclosed voids in structures, named as virtual temperature method (VTM). In this method, suppose that the voids in structure are filled with a virtual heating material with high heat conductivity and solid areas are filled with another virtual material with low heat conductivity. Once the enclosed voids exist in structure, the maximum temperature value of structure will be very high. Based upon this method, the simply-connected constraint is equivalent to maximum temperature constraint. And this method can be easily used to formulate the simply-connected constraint in topology optimization. The effectiveness of this description method is illustrated by several examples. Based upon topology optimization, an example of 3D cantilever beam is used to illustrate the trade-off between manufacturability and functionality. Moreover, the three optimized structures are fabricated by FDM technology to indicate further the necessity of considering the simply-connected constraint in design phase for AM.

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