What are the design guidelines to follow?
The metal 3D-printing process Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF or Selective Laser Melting, SLM®) allows high degrees of freedom in the design of components. Many of the restrictions of conventional manufacturing processes do not apply or apply only to a limited extent. Nevertheless, design guidelines must be observed in order to be able to manufacture high-quality, functional components economically.
For example, overhangs in relation to the build-up direction must be supported by support structures from a limit angle. Otherwise, process errors can occur due to overheating and thermally induced residual stresses. This can result in poor dimensional accuracy, inferior surface quality or, in the worst case, process termination. Support structures are provided by design during build job preparation and then later removed by machining processes, for example.
Some restrictions, such as the minimum possible wall thickness, also depend on the selected material and the process parameters. Furthermore, the maximum possible component size is limited by the installation space of the laser melting system used. For larger components with less complex areas, a combination with conventional manufacturing processes (hybrid manufacturing) can be considered.
Experienced designers in particular face the challenge of adapting their existing know-how to the new way of thinking about metal 3D-printing. Rosswag Engineering has developed an adapted workshop program for this purpose.