Can you build AM parts without supports?
Too often 'design for AM' is about finding ways to build products that really haven't been designed for AM at all. This means that it is often necessary to add support structures to the part in order for it to build successfully, rather than reducing or eliminating the need for supports by considering the AM process constraints early in the part design phase.
With sufficient thought, applied early, the quality and consistency of the part is improved and is fully controlled as part of the design process, not as an afterthought. Modern design tools support the creation of efficient structures, but intelligent design thinking is still needed to make the shapes that they create easy and efficient to build. Where design constraints make the self-supporting ideal unobtainable, we can still design sacrificial structures that maximise the efficiency of our designs.
About the author
Marc Saunders, Director of AM Applications
Marc Saunders has over 25 years' experience in high tech manufacturing. In previous positions at Renishaw, he played a key role in developing the company award-winning RAMTIC automated machining platform, and has also delivered turnkey metrology solutions to customers in the aerospace sector.
Marc manages Renishaw's global network of Additive Manufacturing Solutions Centres, enabling customers who are considering deploying AM as a production process to gain hands-on experience with the technology before committing to a new facility.