Boundless benefits of additive manufacturing have the potential to transform many industries across the globe. The technology minimises design restrictions, overcomes design complexity and supports green manufacturing initiatives. However, there are number of technical limitations that hinder its widespread commercial exploitation, particularly lack of suitability of conventional CAD with the functional requirements. A small scale artefacts and dimensional inaccuracies are likely to occur in areas with sudden change in direction or excessive curvature. This may render the manufactured part unusable, in particular in large structures requiring high accuracy or well-defined surface finish.

The project aims to deliver software add-on for major CAD/CAM packages, in order to overcome the above mentioned limitations of additive manufacturing. The add-on features enable flexibility to manipulate structural properties through micro-management of local geometry and path of powder-dispensing tool. The project identifies the complete set of micro-shapes (i.e. flings, curves, cones, micro-angles and corners) and digitises them as part of CAD data, facilitating an easy access to user. Thorough analysis is performed to consider the local material flow and fluid-dynamics effect on formation of micro-shapes through local deposition model. This contributes towards better understanding of micro-shape interaction with the surrounding area.

The software add-on will bring a great contribution to manufacturing industry, including aerospace and automotive. Particularly manufacturers and repairers of high value and low volume parts will benefit from the technology immensely, due to close proximity of produced part with the original geometry. This presents a great commercial opportunity because of the sheer scale of manufacturing industry and accelerating annual growth of additive manufacturing market. Not only will this venture create new jobs, it also presents new entrepreneurial opportunities and new incentives to invest in manufacturing.

The project is primarily funded by Innovate UK and the objectives are addressed by consortium of the UK’s industrial and manufacturing experts.

For more information, please contact our Engineer in Additive Manufacturing and Process Improvements, Bekmurat Kairoshev, bekmurat.kairoshev@hssmi.org.