It is unlikely AM will replace conventional manufacturing technologies. Yet, the significant advantages of AM [link] are too good to ignore. For instance, almost any shape can be manufactured with AM. The design process can then focus on improving functions. This is a challenge for designers, who are not familiar with these new manufacturing technologies. So how do you know if a product is a suitable candidate for AM?
Need for selection criteria
Not all parts of a system are equally suited for Additive Manufacturing . A design analysis is necessary to identify those parts where AM provides the biggest benefits. We review four selection criteria that can be applied to select components for a (re-)design to fully exploit the geometric freedom of AM.
Can functions or sub-parts be merged into one component?
The objective is to identify assemblies (= groups of parts) which can be redesigned into one single part.
Typical candidates are:
How many design variations are expected?
Individualization means meeting different customers’ requirements and involves significant design variations and smaller lot sizes. To make economic sense, products become an assembly of standard components and customized add-ons to create individualized product at sensible costs.
The standard parts are mass produced conventionally whereas the customized parts are manufactured in small lot sizes.
Typical candidates tend to be consumer products found at human/surroundings interfaces.
Weight and materials costs savings
Can weight-reduction improve performance of the components?
Selectively placing material in locations required by the function (typically via topology optimisation) tends to increase the geometric complexity of the component. However, in contrast to conventional manufacturing, where increased complexity does lead to higher costs, with AM, this reduces material, weight and costs.
Typical candidates are complex load bearing parts found in mobile and dynamic applications.
How could the product operate more efficiently? How can losses be reduced during operation? How can performance be improved during operation?
The objective is to improve the efficiency of the product in operation. Typical candidates include components involved in energy production.
Success requirements for AM-specific designs
To be successful, AM-specific design needs to bring technological and economic benefits by
 Klahn C, Leutenecker B, Meboldt M. Design for Additive Manufacturing – Supporting the Substitution of Components in Series Products. Procedia CIRP 2014;21:138–43.
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