Great Advantages of additive manufacturing technologies

3D printed components with optimised topology

Additive manufacturing technologies are excellent for producing components in lightweight construction. Process-related limitations such as in conventional production are no longer decisive for design and production.

To get structurally optimised components by saving weight is an important factor in mechanical and plant engineering. Depending on the area of application components should withstand extreme loads, have a long service life, and fulfil economic criteria. Where the optimal shape of the parts is limited by conventional production methods such as turning, milling or injection moulding, additive manufacturing offers a solution. With topology optimisation, lightweight components can be produced in 3D printing in a way that would never have been possible with conventional methods.


      Designing a topology optimised 3d print component is achieved easier with appropriate cad software

      To achieve an optimised topology, it is important to know all properties a component requires in detail. This avoids design faults. For a simple version, the optimisation of a component can be done manually.  To an engineer, it is obvious where the geometry of a part should be optimised, when there are almost no limits in the manufacturing process as in 3D printing compared to conventional methods. However, if the component is to be optimised perfectly and quickly, it is vital to use suitable software.

      In topology optimisation software, the algorithm calculates the stress and deformation of a component under load. Numerical methods are used for this, for example the finite element method (FEM), which divides the shape of a component into many cuboids and tetrahedra to calculate the physical properties. From the original component, a fissured, porous model is first designed, a kind of bone structure that serves as a design aid. This is then optimised in several steps: The component is defined by simulating the load cases, i.e., where, in which strength and direction force and tension act. The areas under heavy load contain material. In areas that are not under tension, the material is omitted. This creates components with cavities, openings, or honeycomb structures.


      The most important optimisations are the following:

      • Interfaces to other components
      • Connecting components
      • Avoiding abrupt transitions and sharp edges through curves
      • Suitable filling structures such as honeycombs
      • Organic structures and shapes for optimal power transmission

      Example of an optimised 3d print component

      The original component was filled with material; after optimising the topology, a component with much less material and a new type of structure was created.

      Jellypipe Bauteil urspr√ľngliche nicht-optimierte Form
      Jellypipe Bauteil Topologie-Optimierung
      Jellypipe Bauteil Topologie-Optimierung
      Jellypipe Bauteil Topologie-Optimierung

      Exploiting the advantages of additive manufacturing over conventional methods

      Structurally optimised components must be tested in use to find out whether expectations are met. In this step, another advantage of 3D printing comes into play: individual parts or prototypes can also be produced quickly and easily. The application then shows whether further optimisation and a new design are necessary and sensible.

      Additive manufacturing in combination with topology optimisation: no other process can optimise components to such an extent in terms of weight and cost-effectiveness.

      Your Jellypipe


      Image: 3d printed, optimised part, technology sls, material pa 12


      Markus Grimm
      Chief Virtual Printfactory