Centre for Additive Manufacturing
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Computational Methods within Additive Manufacturing (AM) consist of:

  • design systems
  • multifunctional additive manufacturing
  • lightweight components
  • developing software tools to make use a broad range of lattices in Selectively Laser Melting (SLM) 
research-working-on-design-element-of-additive-manufacturing (2)

Computational Methods

 
 

Projects

Design Systems Development for Multifunctional Additive Manufacturing

Main project: EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing

Funder: EPSRC (EP/I033335/2)

Total value: £5,576,219 (main project)

Start to end date: Oct 2012- March 2017

Summary:

The key to unlocking the benefits of multifunctional Additive Manufacturing lies in the design freedoms that the additive approach engenders. A major challenge is to produce a methodology that enables the design of multifunctional Additive Manufacturing parts that are optimised. This optimisation problem must consider: efficient topology generation with integrated lattices and opto-electrical pathways (for embedded functionality). The multifunctional Additive Manufacturing design paradigm presents a radical advance in product design where weight, performance, functionality and aesthetics are combined in one part and manufactured as a single item.

In order to exploit the potential benefits of this emergent technology, new design, analysis and optimization methods are needed. This project, currently running in its fourth year, progress the planned work on several fronts, particularly contributing towards the development of a coupling method to allow for optimisation of the structure comprised of a number of connected functional components. This is achieved by incorporating the effects of a system on the structural response of a part within a structural topology optimization procedure. The potential of the proposed method is demonstrated by performing a coupled optimization on a cantilever plate with integrated components and circuitry.

Such a coupled optimization formulation allows for the optimal material and system lay-out to be identified as it tackles a system design problem overlaid on a structural design problem. Although, the immediate application for this development is enabling the design of additively manufactured multi-material parts with embedded functional systems, for example a structural part with electronic/electrical components and associated conductive paths, nevertheless, the developed method should be considered for tackling a more general class of engineering problems. For instance, civil engineering structures (buildings/bridges) that incorporate systems (pipes/cables). This coupled optimization development marks a significant step towards being able to exploit the design freedom offered by multi-material AM processes.

Regarding lattice structure design, an emphasis has been placed on expanding the functional grading capability to include both cell size and material variation which will provide greater scope for optimisation. In addition, efficient hierarchal finite element analysis based topology optimisation protocols have been developed to advance the field of topology optimisation for real-life AM structures.

Project team:

  • Dr David Brackett
  • Dr Ajit Panesar
  • Dr Adedeji Aremu
  • Prof Richard Hague
  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Ricky Wildman
 
Aluminium Lattice Structures via Additive Manufacturing (ALSAM)

Funder: TSB/Innovate UK

Total value: £229,586

Start to end date: Feb 2013- April 2015

Summary:

The ALSAM project’s main purpose was to realise lightweight components made from aluminium alloys suitable for the automotive, motorsport and aerospace sectors. This was achieved by embedding lattice structures in components selected by our industrial partners. This significantly reduced their weight and provided the advantage of multifunctional capabilities, such as heat dissipation and enhanced metal-composite bonding.

During the ALSAM project, software tools were developed to make use a broad range of lattices in Selectively Laser Melting (SLM) components. This was incorporated into a software package, which will be released commercially by one of the project partners. Other partners were motivated by component performance improvement, which was generally achieved by reducing unnecessary weight, but also by adding new functionality only possible through the adoption of lattice structures.

Within this project, some of the most pertinent results originated from investigations into self-supporting lattice structures. The lattices were examined theoretically by computational methods and experimentally. The findings were presented at several international conferences and led to a number of journals publications. In addition, the results of the lattice characterisation work fed directly into the design of lightweight components for the project partners.

Project team:

  • Prof Chris Tuck
  • Prof Richard Hague
  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Ricky Wildman
  • Dr Ian Maskery
  • Dr Adedeji Aremu
 

Advanced Structural Integrated Demonstrator (ASID)

Funder: Innovate UK

Total value: £132,774

Start to end date: Jan 2014- March 2017

Summary:

The highly collaborative ASID project was aimed at demonstrating the potential of a number of manufacturing technologies for the aerospace sector. This included the realization of various components of a door assembly via these technologies. Topology optimized hinges, components that attach the door to an air vehicle were realized via selective laser melting, an additive manufacturing technique that allowed the consolidation of layers of molten powder. Novel thermoplastic materials, manufacturing and joining technologies were used to derive the other components of the assembly.

Additively manufacturing the hinges allowed the production of an optimal design with little need for feature penalization. The hinges were simultaneously optimized while experiencing multiple load cases to simulate loads experienced by the door during service in an open and close position. The dimensions of the hinge were constrained to the build envelop of the machine while various topology optimization strategies for fatigue was investigated.  This work showed that complex hinge designs realised via additive manufacturing could be incorporated in an aerospace assembly. However, complications arising from building large parts necessitate the use of unconventional supports to avoid build failures.

Project team:

  • Dr Adedeji Aremu
  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Richard Hague
  • Dr David Brackett
 
Advanced Laser-additive layer Manufacture for Emissions Reduction (ALMER)

Funder: Innovate UK

Total value: £197,966

Start to end date: March 2014- Feb 2017

Summary:

The aim of ALMER was to develop the UK Additive Manufacturing capability through a consortium of both large and small companies, research organisations and academic institutions. ALMER was specifically designed to tackle the manufacturing challenges that must be overcome so that the potential design opportunities afforded by Additive Manufacturing can be exploited fully. The primary objectives of the ALMER project included the generation of production standard data for a nimonic alloy (C263), optimisation of post processing techniques, development of inspection methods, process development of a high temperature alloy (CM247LC) and the generation of a design and optimisation tool that would seek to exploit the weight reduction opportunities in component design. The combination of these developments will enable the advancement towards productionisation of Additive Manufacturing components.

The focus of the ongoing work at The University of Nottingham was to build upon research that had been conducted in the fields of topological optimisation methods and design and optimisation of lattice structures for Additive Manufacture.  The work sought to advance these methods closer to commercial realisation by exploring existing and new methods to fully exploit the design freedoms offered by Additive Manufacturing, whilst incorporating the nuances and performance limitations of this modern manufacturing method. In doing so, ALMER investigated design optimization and experimental validation of titanium samples manufactured using Selective Laser Melting.

Project team:

  • Dr Meisam Abdi
  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Ricky Wildman
  • Dr David Brackett 
 
Functional Lattices for Automotive Components (FLAC)

Funder: Innovate UK

Total value: £368,287

Start to end date: June 2016- May 2019

Summary:

FLAC is an ambitious successor to the Aluminium Lattice Structures via Additive Manufacturing (ALSAM) project which ran from 2013 to 2015.  A three year project with £1.7 million in funding from Innovate UK, FLAC builds on the outcomes of ALSAM to develop advanced componentry for the automotive sector. 

In addition to structural lightweighting, which has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of road vehicles and reduce CO2 emissions, FLAC’s emphasis lies in thermo-mechanically optimised components.  This new class of components draws on the design freedoms of AM, in particular the ability to construct cellular structures such as periodic lattices, as well as the unique, and often superior, mechanical properties of selectively laser melted metal alloys.  Cellular structures based on minimal surfaces, with their high surface areas and torturous flow paths, are of prime interest in FLAC; one of its objectives is to produce a software tool to incorporate these structures in component designs.

FLAC partners include academic institutions, vehicle and component manufacturers, AM design specialists and AM machine manufacturers.  The consortium will use a combined experimental and theoretical approach to advance metal lattice technology beyond its current scope, whilst monitoring the project’s progress for IP and commercial potential.

Project team:

  • Prof Chris Tuck
  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Richard Leach
  • Dr Adam Clare
  • Prof Ricky Wildman
  • Prof Richard Hague
  • Dr Nesma Aboulkhair
  • Dr Ajit Panesar
  • Dr Ian Maskery

Project partners:

  • Hieta Technologies Ltd. (Lead)
  • Renishaw PLC
  • Moog Controls Ltd.
  • Bentley Motors Ltd.
  • Alcon Components Ltd.
  • Added Scientific Ltd.
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Nottingham
 
 
ADAM: Anthropomorphic Design for Advanced Manufacture

Funder: EPSRC (EP/N010280/1)

Total value: £269,486

Start to end date: April 2015- July 2017

Summary:

The combination of additive manufacturing technologies with data science and human-centred design methods can have a transformative effect on the functionality, cost and personalisation of prosthetic limbs, but that an integrated design environment that is open to all stakeholders is needed to realise this. Additive manufacturing brings the potential to automatically ‘print’ prosthetics, and potentially orthotics too, that are personalised to their owners in terms of their size, shape, fit to the human body, aesthetic and functionality, including how they are controlled using physiological signals and the specific ways in which they respond to these such as performing particular combinations of grips. Achieving this level of personalisation however requires the analysis of a diverse collection of data including bodily measurements, the results of clinical tests, statements of user preferences and even knowledge about operating context, all of which need to be quantified in order to drive manufacturing equipment. In turn, the capture and analysis of this data requires input and validation from a variety of human stakeholders including various kinds of clinician, patients and their carers.

The manufacturing engineering research challenge in this project is to be able to intelligently design, automatedly evaluate and efficiently manufacture innovative prosthetic solutions. Numerical tools such as MSC ADAMS software used in conjunction with MATLAB Simulink allow for the identification of performance index (for instance grip and dexterity) for a wide range of prosthesis in an automated fashion. This virtual evaluation makes the investigation into the variety of prosthetic options possible. Advanced prosthetic designs benefit from the multi-functional optimisation tools developed as part of the CfAM to allow for electrical/electronic componentry to be embedded within structurally optimised housing.

Project team:

  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Dr Ajit Panesar
  • Dr Adedeji Aremu 
 

Developing Models that can Accurately Simulate the Delivery, Deposition and Post-Deposition Behaviour of Materials

Main project: EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing

Funder: EPSRC (EP/I033335/2)

Total value: £5,576,219 (main project)

Start to end date: Oct 2012- March 2017

Summary:

Jetting is one of the integral AM techniques for the manufacture of the multifunctional devices that are the core deliverable of the EPSRC Centre. In order to understand, develop and optimise the jetting process it is essential to develop models of the process that can accurately simulate the delivery, deposition and post-deposition behaviour of materials. This requires the development of a suite of multiphysics modelling tools.

The modelling techniques required can be divided into two parts. Firstly, those required to model the material deposition process itself, which involve computational fluid dynamics and fluid-solid interactions. Secondly, those required to model the post deposition behaviour of the manufactured devices, which involve Multiphysics finite element analysis and multi-scale mechanical modelling.

The project was divided into two stages. The first stage involved state of the art reviews and pilot studies to identify future research directions. This led to combined modelling-experimental investigations into nano-fluid drop formation and the accurate finite element representation of jet printed dielectric and bio-degradable polymers, which are on-going. In the second stage, PhD projects in the two parts introduced above will be used to further develop the models and techniques required to model the deposition of materials via the jetting process and the post deposition behaviour of the manufactured parts. This work underpins and informs work carried out at the EPSRC Centre in the areas of jetting of conductive and dielectric elements and the jetting of biodegradable materials.

Project team:

  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Ricky Wildman
  • Prof Chris Tuck
  • Dr Xuesheng Chen
  • Dr Saeid Vafaei
 
 

 

 

 

Centre for Additive Manufacturing

Faculty of Engineering
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD


telephone: +44(0)115 84 66374
email: CfAM@nottingham.ac.uk