Guest Editorial

J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):110301-110301-2. doi:10.1115/1.4031470.

Mechanical engineers design a wide variety of structures, devices, products, and systems. Through manufacturing classes and hands-on design/build projects, students learn all about the challenges of fabrication, the costs of production, and the importance of quality control. We educators reinforce these lessons by teaching students about “design for manufacturing” and the subsequent constraints that each manufacturing process places on how a part is designed, the surface finish that can be achieved, the tolerances that can be held, etc. We teach solid modeling and computer-aided design using conventional x, y, z coordinate systems with well-defined datum planes, and students learn design specification using standards for geometric dimensioning and tolerancing established for conventional manufacturing technology. Design tools and analysis methods have been developed based on years of experience and practice and provide engineers with the confidence they need to manufacture high-quality parts in high volumes.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

PAPERS: Part Design Methods and Specification Challenges in AM

J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111401-111401-10. doi:10.1115/1.4031296.

Additive manufacturing (AM) has increasingly gained attention in the last decade as a versatile manufacturing process for customized products. AM processes can create complex, freeform shapes while also introducing features, such as internal cavities and lattices. These complex geometries are either not feasible or very costly with traditional manufacturing processes. The geometric freedoms associated with AM create new challenges in maintaining and communicating dimensional and geometric accuracy of parts produced. This paper reviews the implications of AM processes on current geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) practices, including specification standards, such as ASME Y14.5 and ISO 1101, and discusses challenges and possible solutions that lie ahead. Various issues highlighted in this paper are classified as (a) AM-driven specification issues and (b) specification issues highlighted by the capabilities of AM processes. AM-driven specification issues may include build direction, layer thickness, support structure related specification, and scan/track direction. Specification issues highlighted by the capabilities of AM processes may include region-based tolerances for complex freeform surfaces, tolerancing internal functional features, and tolerancing lattice and infills. We introduce methods to address these potential specification issues. Finally, we summarize potential impacts to upstream and downstream tolerancing steps, including tolerance analysis, tolerance transfer, and tolerance evaluation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111402-111402-13. doi:10.1115/1.4030994.

Multimaterial polymer printers allow the placement of different material phases within a composite, where some or all of the materials may exhibit an active response. Utilizing the shape memory (SM) behavior of at least one of the material phases, active composites can be three-dimensional (3D) printed such that they deform from an initially flat plate into a curved structure. This paper introduces a topology optimization approach for finding the spatial arrangement of shape memory polymers (SMPs) within a passive matrix such that the composite assumes a target shape. The optimization approach combines a level set method (LSM) for describing the material layout and a generalized formulation of the extended finite-element method (XFEM) for predicting the response of the printed active composite (PAC). This combination of methods yields optimization results that can be directly printed without the need for additional postprocessing steps. Two multiphysics PAC models are introduced to describe the response of the composite. The models differ in the level of accuracy in approximating the residual strains generated by a thermomechanical programing process. Comparing XFEM predictions of the two PAC models against experimental results suggests that the models are sufficiently accurate for design purposes. The proposed optimization method is studied with examples where the target shapes correspond to a plate-bending type deformation and to a localized deformation. The optimized designs are 3D printed and the XFEM predictions are compared against experimental measurements. The design studies demonstrate the ability of the proposed optimization method to yield a crisp and highly resolved description of the optimized material layout that can be realized by 3D printing. As the complexity of the target shape increases, the optimal spatial arrangement of the material phases becomes less intuitive, highlighting the advantages of the proposed optimization method.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111403-111403-9. doi:10.1115/1.4030989.

Topology optimization of an air-cooled heat sink considering heat conduction plus side-surface convection is presented. The optimization formulation is explained along with multiple design examples. A postprocessing procedure is described to synthesize manifold or “water-tight” solid model computer-aided design (CAD) geometry from three-dimensional (3D) point-cloud data extracted from the optimization result. Using this process, a heat sink is optimized for confined jet impingement air cooling. A prototype structure is fabricated out of AlSi12 using additive layer manufacturing (ALM). The heat transfer and fluid flow performance of the optimized heat sink are experimentally evaluated, and the results are compared with benchmark plate and pin-fin heat sink geometries that are conventionally machined out of aluminum and copper. In two separate test cases, the experimental results indicate that the optimized ALM heat sink design has a higher coefficient of performance (COP) relative to the benchmark heat sink designs.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111404-111404-12. doi:10.1115/1.4031156.

Additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic parts provides engineers with unprecedented design freedom. This enables designers to consolidate assemblies, lightweight designs, create intricate internal geometries for enhanced fluid flow or heat transfer performance, and fabricate complex components that previously could not be manufactured. While these design benefits may come “free” in many cases, it necessitates an understanding of the limitations and capabilities of the specific AM process used for production, the system-level design intent, and the postprocessing and inspection/qualification implications. Unfortunately, design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) guidelines for metal AM processes are nascent given the rapid advancements in metal AM technology recently. In this paper, we present a case study to provide insight into the challenges that engineers face when redesigning a multicomponent assembly into a single component fabricated using laser-based powder bed fusion for metal AM. In this case, part consolidation is used to reduce the weight by 60% and height by 53% of a multipart assembly while improving performance and minimizing leak points. Fabrication, postprocessing, and inspection issues are also discussed along with the implications on design. A generalized design approach for consolidating parts is presented to help designers realize the freedoms that metal AM provides, and numerous areas for investigation to improve DfAM are also highlighted and illustrated throughout the case study.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

PAPERS: Multimaterial Design Methods for AM

J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111405-111405-12. doi:10.1115/1.4030995.

Recent progress in additive manufacturing (AM) allows for printing customized products with multiple materials and complex geometries that could form the basis of multimaterial designs with high performance and novel functions. Effectively designing such complex products for optimal performance within the confines of AM constraints is challenging due to the need to consider fabrication constraints while searching for optimal designs with a large number of variables, which stem from new AM capabilities. In this study, fabrication constraints are addressed through empirically characterizing multiple printed materials' Young's modulus and density using a multimaterial inkjet-based 3D-printer. Data curves are modeled for the empirical data describing two base printing materials and 12 mixtures of them as inputs for a computational optimization process. An optimality criteria (OC) method is developed to search for solutions of multimaterial lattices with fixed topology and truss cross section sizes. Two representative optimization studies are presented and demonstrate higher performance with multimaterial approaches in comparison to using a single material. These include the optimization of a cubic lattice structure that must adhere to a fixed displacement constraint and a compliant beam lattice structure that must meet multiple fixed displacement constraints. Results demonstrate the feasibility of the approach as a general synthesis and optimization method for multimaterial, lightweight lattice structures that are large-scale and manufacturable on a commercial AM printer directly from the design optimization results.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111406-111406-9. doi:10.1115/1.4030991.

The PolyJet material jetting process is uniquely qualified to create complex, multimaterial structures. However, key manufacturing constraints need to be explored and understood in order to guide designers in their use of the PolyJet process including (1) minimum manufacturable feature size, (2) removal of support material, (3) survivability of small features, and (4) the self-supporting angle in the absence of support material. The authors use a design of experiments (DOE) approach to identify the statistical significance of geometric and process parameters and to quantify the relationship between these significant parameters and part manufacturability. The results from this study include the identification of key variables, relationships, and quantitative design thresholds necessary to establish a preliminary set of design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) guidelines for material jetting. Experimental design studies such as the one in this paper are crucial to provide designers with the knowledge to ensure that their proposed designs are manufacturable with the PolyJet process, whether designed manually or by an automated method, such as topology optimization (TO).

Topics: Design , Manufacturing
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111407-111407-11. doi:10.1115/1.4031097.

This paper presents the challenges and solutions encountered while designing and then printing functionally gradient material (FGM) objects using an off the shelf fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer. The printer, Big Builder Dual-Feed Extruder from 3dprinter4u, Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, has the unique design of extruding two different filaments out of one nozzle. By controlling the rate at which the two filaments are pulled into the melt chamber, FGM objects can be printed. Software challenges associated with process planning required to print an FGM object are solved by showing a method for printing a discretized gradient and by designing an open-loop control mechanism for the extruder motors. A design method is proposed that models an object using a level-set function (LSF) with a material gradient. Instead of merely identifying the boundaries of the object, the level set also models the material gradient within the object. This representation method along with a genetic algorithm finds an optimal design for an FGM cantilever beam that is then printed on the FDM printer. The model and genetic algorithm are also used to solve a standard topology optimization problem. The results are compared to a similar FGM topology optimization method in the literature. All the codes for this paper are made open source to facilitate future research.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111408-111408-12. doi:10.1115/1.4031012.

An integrated multiscale modeling framework that incorporates a simulation-based upscaling technique is developed and implemented for the material characterization of additively manufactured cellular structures in this paper. The proposed upscaling procedure enables the determination of homogenized parameters at multiple levels by matching the probabilistic performance between fine and coarse scale models. Polynomial chaos expansion (PCE) is employed in the upscaling procedure to handle the computational burden caused by the input uncertainties. Efficient uncertainty quantification is achieved at the mesoscale level by utilizing the developed upscaling technique. The homogenized parameters of mesostructures are utilized again at the macroscale level in the upscaling procedure to accurately obtain the overall material properties of the target cellular structure. Actual experimental results of additively manufactured parts are integrated into the developed procedure to demonstrate the efficacy of the method.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111409-111409-7. doi:10.1115/1.4030993.

The continuously decreasing life cycle of modern products leads to new challenges for product development. Additive manufacturing (AM) processes are able to support faster development by rapid production of samples and prototypes. However, the material properties of components produced by common (plastic-) 3D-printers are often insufficient for functional prototyping. A well-established way to improve the properties of plastics is the embedding of reinforcing fibers. Thus, this paper shows a method for fiber-reinforced 3D-printing. Through this combination, several restrictions of conventional composite production can be eased and additional freedoms of design are gained. To support the design of such parts, an adapted design methodology for fiber-reinforced 3D-printing is developed.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

PAPERS: Process Planning Considerations for AM

J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111410-111410-9. doi:10.1115/1.4030998.

Additively manufactured objects often exhibit directional dependencies in their structure due to the layered nature of the printing process. While this dependency has a significant impact on the object's functional performance, the problem of finding the best build orientation to maximize structural robustness remains largely unsolved. We introduce an optimization algorithm that addresses this issue by identifying the build orientation that maximizes the factor of safety (FS) of an input object under prescribed loading and boundary configurations. First, we conduct a minimal number of physical experiments to characterize the anisotropic material properties. Next, we use a surrogate-based optimization method to determine the build orientation that maximizes the minimum factor safety. The surrogate-based optimization starts with a small number of finite element (FE) solutions corresponding to different build orientations. The initial solutions are progressively improved with the addition of new solutions until the optimum orientation is computed. We demonstrate our method with physical experiments on various test models from different categories. We evaluate the advantages and limitations of our method by comparing the failure characteristics of parts printed in different orientations.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111411-111411-7. doi:10.1115/1.4031071.

With the advance of additive manufacturing (AM) processes, complex designs can be created with engineering metals. One specific advantage of this greater design space is the ability to create small internal channels and passageways for cooling high heat flux or temperature applications such as electronics and gas turbine airfoils. These applications can have complex shapes, which when coupled with the required small channel sizes, make traditional finishing processes a challenge for additively manufactured parts. Therefore, it is desirable for designers to be able to use AM parts with small internal channels that are as-built. To achieve this goal, however, designers must know how the AM process affects internal channel tolerances and roughness levels, since both impact the amount of cooling that can be achieved in actual applications. In this study, the direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process, more generically referred to as selective laser melting (SLM), was used to additively manufacture test coupons. The AM build direction was varied to study its effect on small microsized, circular channels. Specifically, X-ray computed tomography (CT-scan) was used to nondestructively inspect the interior of the test coupons. Using the data from the CT-scans, internal surface roughness, geometric tolerances, and deviations from the computer-aided design (CAD) model were calculated. In comparing the data, significant differences were seen between the three different build directions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111412-111412-4. doi:10.1115/1.4031057.

Electron beam melting (EBM) additive manufacturing (AM) technology has allowed the layerwise fabrication of parts from metal powder precursor materials that are selectively melted using an electron beam. An advantage of EBM technology over conventional manufacturing processes has been the capability to change processing variables (e.g., beam current, beam speed, and beam focus) throughout part fabrication, enabling the processing of a wide variety of materials. In this research, additional scans were implemented in an attempt to promote grain coarsening through the added thermal energy. It is hypothesized that the additional energy caused coarsening of Ti-6Al-4V microstructure that has been shown to increase mechanical properties of as-fabricated parts as well as improve surface characteristics (e.g., reduced porosity). Fatigue testing was performed on an L-bracket using a loading configuration designed to cause failure at the corner (i.e., intersection of the two members) of the bracket. Results showed 22% fatigue life improvement from L-brackets with as-fabricated conditions to L-brackets with a graded microstructure resulting from the selective addition of thermal energy in the expected failure region. Three L-brackets were fabricated and exposed to a triple melt cycle (compared to the standard single melt cycle) during fabrication, machined to specific dimensions, and tested. Results for fatigue performance were within ∼1% of wrought L-brackets. The work from this research shows that new design procedures can be implemented for AM technologies that involve evaluation of stress concentration sites using finite element analysis and implementation of scanning strategies during fabrication that help improve performance by spatially adjusting thermal energy at potential failure sites or high stress regions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

PAPERS: Novel Applications of Design for AM

J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111413-111413-10. doi:10.1115/1.4031023.

A self-folding structure fabricated by additive manufacturing (AM) can be automatically folded into a demanding three-dimensional (3D) shape by actuation mechanisms such as heating. However, 3D surfaces can only be fabricated by self-folding structures when they are flattenable. Most generally, designed parts are not flattenable. To address the problem, we develop a shape optimization method to modify a nonflattenable surface into flattenable. The shape optimization framework is equipped with topological operators for adding interior/boundary cuts to further improve the flattenability. When inserting cuts, self-intersection is locally prevented on the flattened two-dimensional (2D) pieces. The total length of inserted cuts is also minimized to reduce artifacts on the finally folded 3D shape.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111414-111414-10. doi:10.1115/1.4030996.

A framework for the design of additively manufactured (AM) multimaterial parts with embedded functional systems is presented (e.g., structure with electronic/electrical components and associated conductive paths). Two of the key strands of this proposed framework are placement and routing strategies, which consist of techniques to exploit the true-3D design freedoms of multifunctional AM (MFAM) to create 3D printed circuit volumes (PCVs). Example test cases are presented, which demonstrate the appropriateness and effectiveness of the proposed techniques. The aim of the proposed design framework is to enable exploitation of the rapidly developing capabilities of multimaterial AM.

Topics: Design , Circuits , Geometry
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111415-111415-9. doi:10.1115/1.4031089.

Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D-printing, sits at the heart of the Maker Movement—the growing desire for wider-ranges of people to design physical objects. However, most users that wish to design functional moving devices face a prohibitive barrier-to-entry: they need fluency in a computer-aided design (CAD) package. This limits most people to being merely consumers, rather than designers or makers. To solve this problem, we combine advances in mechanism synthesis, computer languages, and design for AM to create a computational framework, the MechProcessor, which allows novices to produce 3D-printable, moving mechanisms of varying complexity using simple and extendable interfaces. The paper describes how we use hierarchical cascading configuration languages, breadth-first search, and mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) for mechanism synthesis, along with a nested, printable test-case to detect and resolve the AM constraints needed to ensure the devices can be 3D printed. We provide physical case studies and an open-source library of code and mechanisms that enable others to easily extend the MechProcessor framework. This encourages new research, commercial, and educational directions, including new types of customized printable robotics, business models for customer-driven design, and STEM education initiatives that involve nontechnical audiences in mechanical design. By promoting novice interaction in complex design and fabrication of movable components, we can move society closer to the true promise of the Maker Movement: turning consumers into designers.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111416-111416-7. doi:10.1115/1.4030997.

The recently popularized domain of additive manufacturing (AM) has much to offer to medical device development, especially to the growing field of minimally invasive surgery (MIS). With the advancements in AM materials, one could soon envision materializing not only the proofs of concept but also the final clinically approved instruments. DragonFlex—the world's first AM steerable MIS instrument prototype—was recently devised with the aim to follow this vision. Apart from the medical device design restrictions, several limitations of AM materials and processes had to be considered. The aim of this paper is to present these insights to those opting for this means of manufacture, serving as a helpful design and material guide. Over the course of its development, DragonFlex has gone through four design generations so far, each differing in the AM material and process used. Due to being a prototype of a MIS instrument of miniature dimensions, the printing processes were limited to stereolithography (SLA), as to achieve the best possible precision and accuracy. Each SLA process and material brought along specific advantages and disadvantages affecting the final printout quality, which needed to be compensated for either at the design stage, during, or after printing itself. The four DragonFlex generations were printed using the following SLA techniques and materials in this order: polymer jetting from Objet VeroBlue™; SLA Digital Light Processing™ (DLP) method from EnvisionTEC® NanoCure RCP30 and R5; conventional SLA from 3D Systems Accura® 60; and DLP based SLA process from a ceramic composite. The material choice and the printing orientation were found to influence the final printout accuracy and integrity of thin features, as well as material's postproduction behavior. The polymeric VeroBlue™ proved structurally sound, although suffering from undermined accuracy and requiring postprocessing, hence recommended for prototyping of upscaled designs of looser manufacturing tolerances or overdimensioned experimental setups. The NanoCure materials are capable of reaching the best accuracy requiring almost no postprocessing, thus ideal for prototyping small intricate features. Yet their mechanical functionality is undermined due to the high brittleness of RCP30 and high flexibility of R5. The transparent Accura® 60 was found to lose its strength and appeal due to high photosensitivity. Finally, the ceramic composite shows the best potential for medical use due to its biocompatibility and superior mechanical properties, yet one has to compensate for the material shrinkage already at the design stage.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111417-111417-5. doi:10.1115/1.4031123.

The field of rehabilitation robotics has emerged to address the growing desire to improve therapy modalities after neurological disorders, such as a stroke. For rehabilitation robots to be successful as clinical devices, a number of mechanical design challenges must be addressed, including ergonomic interactions, weight and size minimization, and cost–time optimization. We present additive manufacturing (AM) as a compelling solution to these challenges by demonstrating how the integration of AM into the development process of a hand exoskeleton leads to critical design improvements and substantially reduces prototyping cost and time.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2015;137(11):111418-111418-4. doi:10.1115/1.4030992.

There is a trend toward operative treatment for certain types of clavicle fractures and these are usually treated with plate osteosynthesis. The subcutaneous location of the clavicle makes the plate fit important, but the clavicle has a complex shape, which varies greatly between individuals and hence standard plates often have a poor fit. Using computed tomography (CT) based design, the plate contour and screw positioning can be optimized to the actual case. A method for patient-specific plating using design based on CT-data, additive manufacturing (AM), and postprocessing was initially evaluated through three case studies, and the plate fit on the reduced fracture was tested during surgery (then replaced by commercial plates). In all three cases, the plates had an adequate fit on the reduced fracture. The time span from CT scan of the fracture to final implant was two days. An approach to achieve functional design and screw-hole positioning was initiated. These initial trials of patient-specific clavicle plating using AM indicate the potential for a smoother plate with optimized screw positioning. Further, the approach facilitates the surgeon's work and operating time can be saved.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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