Additive Manufacturing with Modular Support Structures

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Yigit, Ismail Enes
Isa, Mohammed
Lazoglu, Ismail

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University of Texas at Austin


Additive manufacturing is praised to have low material waste compared to conventional subtractive manufacturing methods. This is not always the case when the computer aided design (CAD) model consists of large overhangs. In such cases, fabrication of support structures are required to fill the space between the CAD model and the manufacturing bed. In post processing, these support structures must be removed from the model. These supports become waste and reduce the buy-to-fly ratio. In this paper, we present a pre-fabricated reusable modular support structure system which minimizes the fabrication of conventional support structures. The conventional supports are replaced with modular support blocks wherever possible. The blocks are stacked under the overhang with a robot arm until the overhang of the model is reached. Conventional supports can be fabricated on top when needed with fused filament fabrication. This strategy reduces fabrication of conventional supports. Thus, faster fabrication times are obtained with higher buy-to-fly ratios.


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