A lightweight and support-free design method for selective laser melting

  • Zhonghua Li
  • David Zhengwen Zhang
  • Peng Dong
  • Ibrahim Kucukkoc
Open Access


Topology optimisation is an effective approach to design extreme lightweight components. However, most of the resulted optimum lightweight components usually have complex structures which cannot be produced successfully by traditional manufacturing processes. Selective laser melting is one of the additive manufacturing processes. It shows powerful capacity in the manufacturing of metal components with complex structures. Therefore, the combination of topology optimisation and selective laser melting shows a promising prospect for metal components. However, support structures were usually introduced during the selective laser melting manufacturing process, which resulted to some disadvantages, for example, the support structures are generally difficult to remove from the original components because it is difficult to clamping and machining. Therefore, a design method was proposed in this study, named lightweight and support-free design method, the detailed design process and advantages were presented. In the design process, topology optimisation was applied to realise lightweight design, and support-free design process was developed to meet the support-free requirement. Finally, as a case, a cross-beam component was designed using the proposed method, and the final model was produced successfully using selective laser melting process. The case study result verified that the proposed design method is effective to design lightweight and support-free industrial metal components for SLM process.


Selective laser melting Topology optimisation Lightweight Support-free 


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© The Author(s) 2016

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhonghua Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Zhengwen Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peng Dong
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ibrahim Kucukkoc
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.The State Key Laboratory of Mechanical TransmissionsChongqing UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  3. 3.Capital Aerospace Machinery CompanyBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Industrial EngineeringBalikesir University, Cagis CampusBalikesirTurkey

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