Multi-Material Process Planning for Additive Manufacturing
A key process in additive manufacturing is converting a 3D model into a set of instructions that a robot can parse and implement. This process is commonly referred to as slicing. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Metal Big Area Additive Manufacturing (MBAAM) team at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) has developed a slicing software that generates instructions for multiple materials within the same part. The benefits of using multiple materials are lower cost, fewer voids, and greater control over the print. However, a significant challenge arose when the two different materials had different layer heights and bead widths. A layer of complexity was added not only when the material changed from layer to layer, but also when different materials were used within a single layer. These challenges were addressed by assigning bead types and profile types to printing regions and layers, respectively.