Two separate US University of Pittsburgh research projects, aimed at improving design development for structures in in additive manufacturing (AM), have been awarded more than US$1.7 million by America Makes.

The first, US$961,112 project, ‘Integrated Design Tool Development for High Potential AM Applications’ is led by Albert To, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, in conjunction with ANSYS, United Technologies Research Center, Honeywell, Materials Sciences Corporation, Aerotech, ExOne, RTI International Metals (Alcoa Titanium & Engineered Products), U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, EOS of North America, and Marcus Machinery.

‘AM technologies are capable of producing very complex geometries and topologies, tremendously expanding the limited design space allowed by traditional manufacturing methods,’ said Dr. To. ‘However, existing CAD/CAE software packages to date have not taken full advantage of this enormous design freedom. We plan to create an integrated design suite that can be rapidly commercialized, thereby helping industry minimize design time, lower manufacturing cost, and reduce time to market for new AM product development.’

Support structures

Ravi Shankar, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering, is principal investigator of ‘Parametric Design of Functional Support Structures for Metal Alloy Feedstocks’. Collaborators on the US$805,966 contract include Johnson & Johnson, ITAMCO, and the University of Notre Dame.

‘Support structures play two important roles in additive manufacturing – holding a part in place, and dissipating heat during manufacturing,’ said Dr. Shankar. ‘However, these structures are very simple and few rules exist for designing them. We want to codify the design rules for support structures used in direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) to inform and then automatically recommend the optimal part orientation and the designs for optimized supports. Also, by better controlling the design, we can more effectively draw away the heat during manufacturing and minimize distortion.’

This story is reprinted from material from America Makes, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.