Additive manufacturing offers unprecedented freedom to design strong, lightweight parts using high-performance polymer or metal materials. However, this potential is lost in today’s most commonly used design applications that have been developed over decades to produce models suitable for traditional manufacturing processes. The complex, organic geometry that is capable of being produced by additive manufacturing simply cannot be modeled manually.
Instead, the next-generation of tools used to design products for additive manufacturing are able to generate optimized geometry based on the parameters of the product requirements. They are not only able to create more intricate designs, but they can also be applied to explore more design possibilities.
Forms that would be unimaginable can be generated and evaluated for trade-offs between performance, cost, aesthetic, and manufacturability. The generative design technologies to be discussed include:
- Topology optimization – used to reduce mass by identifying and removing excess material from the part while maintaining or exceeding performance criteria.
- Latticing – used to generate internal lattices and optimized surface structures to create architected materials that can modify the properties to tailor the weight, stiffness, thermal conductivity and more, sometimes varying within a single part.
- Form synthesis – multi-objective optimization using design goals and constraints as the input, the software runs artificial intelligence-based algorithms to produce a wide range of design alternatives optimized for the process specified.