Successful Prints Require Feedback Before They Go to the Machine

DFAM is unlike designing for subtractive machining or injection molding, and requires acute understanding of the machine, process and materials involved.


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The additive manufacturing ecosystem consists of software, hardware and materials, all of which need to be optimized for process success. With design for AM (DFAM) you need to design specifically for a machine and material combination, with design optimization throughout. Optimization occurs first on the part level, where material properties can be altered, and then on the machine level, where support structures are added and tool paths simulated. All this requires software that can take users from design through post-production. 

Duann Scott of Autodesk's Business Development & Strategy, Digital Manufacturing Group discussed this at the recent Additive Manufacturing Conference.

“To be better designers you need feedback before the job goes to the machine. You are basically designing a problem and the software helps you solve it,” he said.

Autodesk is working on a database of material properties based on machine and material parameters that can help tailor designs to meet new requirements, according to Scott. The work will contribute to packing algorithms to make denser builds, support structure strategies for aiding postprocessing, heat dissipation compensation, and process simulation to predict a part’s net shape and deformation.

Next will be design tools to make the most of  AM, such as a design guide based on individual data points (for example, cost, heat, wear, weight). This progress is only possible through collaboration among software developers, machine tool suppliers and end users to improve AM design.