Automated Process Planning for Embossing and Functionally Grading Materials via Site-Specific Control in Large-Format Metal-Based Additive Manufacturing

Materials (Basel). 2022 Jun 11;15(12):4152. doi: 10.3390/ma15124152.


The potential for site-specific, process-parameter control is an attribute of additive manufacturing (AM) that makes it highly attractive as a manufacturing process. The research interest in the functionally grading material properties of numerous AM processes has been high for years. However, one of the issues that slows developmental progress in this area is process planning. It is not uncommon for manual programming methods and bespoke solutions to be utilized for site-specific control efforts. This article presents the development of slicing software that contains a fully automated process planning approach for enabling through-thickness, process-parameter control for a range of AM processes. The technique includes the use of parent and child geometries for controlling the locations of site-specific parameters, which are overlayed onto unmodified toolpaths, i.e., a vector-based planning approach is used in which additional information, such as melt pool size for large-scale metal AM processes, is assigned to the vectors. This technique has the potential for macro- and micro-structural modifications to printed objects. A proof-of-principle experiment is highlighted in which this technique was used to generate dynamic bead geometries that were deposited to induce a novel surface embossing effect, and additional software examples are presented that highlight software support for more complex objects.

Keywords: additive manufacturing; embossing; large-format DED; slicing.