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Analysis and Optimization of Energy Consumption for Multi-part Printing Using Selective Laser Melting and Considering the Support Structure

Abstract

Selective laser melting (SLM) can form complex and precise metal parts simultaneously and is widely used in medical and aerospace fields. The support structure plays an important role in SLM process, including supporting the overhanging structure, dissipating heat, and minimizing geometric deformation caused by internal stress. However, a non-optimal support structure causes increased energy and material consumption during processing and must be removed afterward to allow for utilization of the parts. Existing support structure design methods only consider reducing the support of a single part, and research on the support and energy consumption of simultaneous multi-part printing is lacking. Therefore, to reduce the energy and material consumption of simultaneous multi-part printing by SLM and improve processing efficiency, an energy consumption analysis and optimization method is proposed in this study from the perspective of the support structure. Based on previous studies on energy consumption distribution of the additive manufacturing process, a multi-component SLM energy consumption and material consumption model was established. Furthermore, a shared-support optimization strategy for simultaneous multi-part processing is proposed. For optimization, the method selects the appropriate printing direction of one part, and then combines multiple parts to form a shared support structure to minimize energy consumption. Finally, under the constraint of minimizing the mass, an optimization strategy of the SLM multi-part shared support combination is established, and the purpose of reducing the energy consumption and material consumption of the SLM is achieved under the premise of ensuring the geometric accuracy of the parts. The method was applied to the manufacturing process of a group of parts with a beam structure. Compared with the printing method using independent support, the shared support structure method reduced energy consumption more than 5.5%, material consumption for the support structure more than 17.2%, and printing time to a certain extent. This method effectively improves SLM production efficiency and sustainability and provides strategic support for additive manufacturing designers and producers.

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Data Availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.

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Funding

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51775162, 52005146), National Social Science Foundation of China (20BGL108), Natural Science Foundation of Anhui Province (2008085QE265, 2008085QE232, 2008085ME150), Demonstration experiment training Center of Suzhou University (szxy2020sfzx02), Domestic Visiting and Study Program for outstanding Young Backbone talents in Colleges and universities (gxgnfx2021151), The Research Platform of Anhui Provincial Engineering Laboratory on Information Fusion and Control of Intelligent Robot under grants (IFCIR2020005), and Opening Project of Suzhou University Research Platform (2020ykf11, 2020ykf12, 2020ykf13). Their financial contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

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Contributions

ZM wrote the manuscript. MG and LL contributed to the conception of the study and revised the manuscript. QW performed the experiments. KG performed the data analyses. GZ and CL contributed significantly to analysis and manuscript preparation. ZL helped perform the analysis with constructive discussions.

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Correspondence to Mengdi Gao.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Ma, Z., Gao, M., Guo, K. et al. Analysis and Optimization of Energy Consumption for Multi-part Printing Using Selective Laser Melting and Considering the Support Structure. Int. J. of Precis. Eng. and Manuf.-Green Tech. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40684-022-00450-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40684-022-00450-y

Keywords

  • Selective laser melting
  • Multi-part printing
  • Energy consumption
  • Support optimization