Optimization of support structure in multi-articulated joints of non-assembly mechanisms
Manufacturing of efficient multi-articulated joints in a single process is quite competitive and demanding these days. Conventional manufacturing processes are very limited in terms of producing the entire assembly as a single component. Therefore, additive manufacturing (AM) processes seem to be an attractive option for producing multi-articulated mechanisms in a single step. However, due to some overhanging features like holes, edges, and joints in non-assemblies, AM processes use some support material. Thus, the addition of support material rises the manufacturing time and material cost of the product. Besides this, the removal of support material from the complex features and joints also increases the post-processing. To cope with this problem, this study focuses on the reduction of manufacturing time of multi-articulated joints by minimizing the support material. For this purpose, two major effective parameters including support structure type and support placement are considered in this study. In support structure, normal and tree supports are taken into consideration while in support placement two discrete cases including ‘support everywhere’ and ‘touching buildplate’ have been studied. Four distinct non-assemblies consisting of multi-articulated joints are manufactured using different combinations of support structure type and support placement. Analysis of variance has been performed to analyze the significance of input parameters. Normal support structure touching the build plate yields comparatively lesser manufacturing time and support material. This optimum case is then compared with manufacturing the non-assembly with no support. The comparison shows that the non-assembly manufactured without any support offers minimum manufacturing time and support material however, it creates distortion in some features near the build plate due non-adherence of initial layers. For this reason, printing non-assembly without any support is not observed an adequate option and printing with normal support at the buildplate is suggested for the non-assembly mechanisms.
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