Conceptual Design for Additive Manufacturing: Lessons Learned from an Undergraduate Course

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Thompson, Scott M.

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University of Texas at Austin


Design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) guidelines continue to emerge and evolve as various additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, and the knowledge of their associated end-users/designers, matures. This work summarize important pedagogical and technical lessons learned from the conceptual re-design of several, diverse parts/assemblies submitted by ~50 undergraduate students cognizant of recent DfAM strategies and guidelines. All students were enrolled in a traditional, semester-long metals AM course designed by the author herein. Students were instructed to select an existing, metallic product and provide a conceptual redesign of that product for subsequent, effective laser-powder bed fusion (L-PBF). Students were instructed that the redesigned concept should have enhanced functionality/specifications and consist of features (e.g. thin walls, bore diameters, etc.) that can be fabricated with minimal risk via current L-PBF systems. The presented results include the types of parts that attract an ‘AM redesign’ effort and the most popular AM-enabled detailed design decisions made. To encourage a more detail-inspired design, DfAM topics were presented ‘backwards’; from post-manufacturing considerations to conceptual design while considering emerging design rules and heuristics. Results indicate that students can become preoccupied with DfAM rules to a point where the design failure modes are not properly accounted for.


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