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Methods and Benefits of Designing for Additive Manufacturing

In a webinar from August 2021, Ethan Rejto, technical marketing manager at Desktop Metal, said design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) can be broken into two categories: leveraging design features to take full advantage of additive manufacturing (AM), and following rules to be successful with the process. He also discussed tools that support DFAM, drawing from examples of technology offered by Desktop Metal and its partner companies.

Additive Geometries
Complex geometries have been possible through traditional manufacturing methods, but Rejto points out that they resulted in narrower design spaces, increased cost and increased manufacturing complexity. AM has greater design flexibility, requires less material — thereby lowering costs — and does not increase in manufacturing process complexity with increased part design complexity. Rejto went so far as to say that additive manufacturing can “create parts that would take decades of knowhow for traditional manufacturing in the push of a button.”

Lightweighting is a notable advantage stemming from increased geometric complexity. Even basic optimizations can greatly reduce costs and print times, but the most significant advantages come from advanced lattice-work (which often requires dedicated topology optimization software). Lattices can further drop the weight and cost of optimized parts, while creating geometries impossible or unfeasible for traditional manufacturing.

Traditional manufacturing has always been able to handle straight holes, but additive manufacturing enables more shapes. This benefit comes into play most often when working with manifolds or designing conformal cooling channels with untraditional shapes. Cycle times for parts decrease, and the daily production capacity for parts in question increases drastically.

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