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ENCOMPASS

Design decision support system to optimise manufacture of AM parts

Start Date: October 2016 – March 2020

Objective:

The ENCOMPASS project principally aimed to create an integrated design decision support (IDDS) system to cover the whole manufacturing chain for a laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) AM process encompassing all individual processes within in.

Key activities:

There were two key aspects to the project: the design interrogation tool and database, and the manufacturing process development.

The first of these developed a decision support tool that integrated into a piece of design software which made use of:

  • Design rule knowledge (including considerations such as enclosed voids, overhanging regions, recoater exposure, thin walls / small gaps, surface roughness, transitions, blocked paths, small and large areas)
  • Simulation tools spanning the build process, post-processing (new surface finishing, powder removal, and stress relieving simulation tools were developed) and inspection stages (line-of-sight metrology and x-ray attenuation simulation tools were developed).

These tools provided feedback to the designer on the manufacturability of their AM part throughout the whole process chain and should enable better design decisions to be made.

The second aspect of the project was to improve the L-PBF processing itself to include feature-specific laser scanning strategies and different laser control options to improve the quality of the parts manufactured, based on the criticality of the designed features. A data management system was developed and used to communicate knowledge between the design and manufacturing steps, and between individual manufacturing steps, such as updating the post-processing and inspection plans if significant variability exists during the AM build process.

Benefits:

The IDDS system was piloted during the project and evaluated with practical use cases from four end users in the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors. It was found that the tool could be used to significantly improve the efficiency of the design and manufacturing process and the tool is in the process of being commercialised to enable wider use.

MTC role in project

The MTC technically led and coordinated this whole project and also were responsible for a number of the work packages, including the post-processing and inspection work package, and the data management system work package.

Project partners:

MTC, Altair, Fraunhofer ILT, ITP, Renishaw, Rolls Royce, EWF, University of Liverpool, ESI, DePuy Synthes, CRF

Funding body:

H2020

Project budget:

€4m

Grant to MTC:

€800k

Link to Project website:

http://encompass-am.eu

Contact Us:

NCAM@the-mtc.org