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Designing for Additive

Additive manufacturing enables the building of complex parts once thought impossible. It removes many of the limitations of traditional manufacturing processes, and requires an understanding and knowledge of a new set of design rules.

  1. Features less than 45 degrees to build plate may require support.
  • Think of metal additive as a single extruder FDM (makerbot) and support all overhangs or lower build angles to ensure high build quality. Because we only have one material to work with (metal), we machine the support away in post processing.
  • Be aware of walls at 90 degrees to each other, which greatly limit the option for build orientations and can compromise quality.
  1. Use self-supporting features.
  • Diamonds work great when you need a hole, especially when the opening is greater than a few millimeters.
  1. Plan for build orientation.
  • How will the part grow?
  • Where will support be needed?
  • Can we simplify and reduce the cost of post machining?
  • What are the critical features of the part?
  1. Examine your part to see where the value is.
  • Can you print a smaller part and use it as an insert into a larger part or block?
  1. Don’t print simple-to-machine geometries.
  • The additive process costs more than traditional processes.
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