CADCAM developer Delcam is one of the partners in the SAVING project, a £1.4 million research and development programme to develop improved methods of manufacture for high-value engineering components. The other members of the consortium are Simpleware, Exeter University, 3T RPD, Crucible Industrial Design, EOS UK and Plunkett Associates.
The main aim of the project, which is receiving an investment of almost £3/4 million from the UK government-funded Technology Strategy Board, is to develop lightweight and sustainable products via material design optimisation and additive manufacturing (AM). This will lead to significant reductions in materials and energy consumption in the production of high-value products. As an innovative and promising material process technology, AM allows the rapid manufacture of sustainable products through new lightweight material structure technology that utilises both metals and plastics more effectively. It has the potential to produce high-value aerospace, medical and engineering parts with minimum material waste and energy input.
The SAVING project will focus on three areas; material design optimisation, process optimisation, and the associated support structures required when fabricating parts using AM. The first of these, material design optimisation, will study lightweight structures. Process optimisation will look into the way that the design is implemented with the AM process. This will address part orientation, layer thickness, surface finish and mechanical properties whilst at the same time optimising for energy consumption and part quality.
Finally, the sacrificial support structures that are used with the metal based AM systems, serve no useful purpose after the part is manufactured. Thus, in conjunction with the process optimisation, support design will be analysed and optimised to minimise energy and material usage.
According to the initiator of the project, Dr. Liang Hao from Exeter University, ‘SAVING’ has the potential to radically affect the way in which we look at the structure of components. "For the first time we are looking at the ability to design the structure of the part without the additional complexity translating into additional cost,” he explained. "AM brings a new era of manufacturing flexibility, but we need to know how to design for it and how to maximise this advantage. The SAVING project will allow us to understand and access this potential and thus move beyond our existing design perceptions.”
Apr 7, 2010
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