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Optimizing Products and Production Using Additive Manufacturing by Introducing Bionics into the Engineering Design Process

Petersson, Håkan

Conference paper (Refereegranskat)


In order to perform engineering design activities aiming at the design of new or redesign of existing products, a number of alternative processes, methods and techniques are available in the literature to the engineering designer/product developing enterprise. These processes, methods and techniques, are usually not explicitly expressed in terms of directives as to when and how they are to be used in the actual design of the product-to-be.

An important goal in product development of today is to fulfill the terms for sustainable development, thus emphasizing the need to develop products which are not overexploiting the available resources provided by nature. By utilizing an approach to development and design based on bionics, i.e. utilizing biological methods and systems found in nature as a means of creating technical solutions, a conceptual framework is provided which is especially fit to accommodate the striving for sustainability.

Striving for lightweight designs provides a significant potential to reduce the energy consumption of the product-to-be, which at present is a highly prioritized goal within sustainable development. Up until now, the dominating approach to lightweight designs has been to utilize lightweight materials such as different types of composites and metallic materials such as aluminum, magnesium and titanium.

By introducing biomimicry into the engineering design process, an additional step towards efficient lightweight design solutions might be within reach. Since the objects created by nature are independent of costs and time, these are most often very complex especially regarding shapes and dimensions. In order to match these constraints in the creation of technical solutions (products), it is necessary to utilize optimization in combination with a flexible manufacturing process. The ideal manufacturing method to meet these demands is Additive Manufacturing (AM), though, at least for the time being, it imposes some constraints in size, costs etc. of the product to be manufactured.

If the product designed is to be suitable for manufacturing for AM, it must be optimized, and so must the way it is to be processed. Therefore three of the most essential problems which need to be addressed in order to efficiently utilize AM are also elaborated upon and reported in the paper.

The first of these problems is how to optimize the product-to-be. The second is to establish the orientation in which the product is to be manufactured during the AM process. The third is to find the best usage of the support material in the 3D printer, as there is no optimized process available for this activity. This is mainly due to the difficulties to foresee the waste of building material as, in most cases, this material can only be used once.

In this paper, a process for the design and development of new products is proposed. The application of the process also includes essential elements to assure an efficient use of AM as mentioned above. The process is established on the basis of an integration of the Biomimicry Design Spiral, Bionic Structures and Elements and optimization into the Engineering Design Process. The utilization of the process is demonstrated by an application and reported in the form of a modified engineering design process — the Engineering Design and Biomimicry Design Process or the EDBP process for short.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME

Key words: Bionics; Engineering design processes; Additive manufacturing

Cite: Petersson, Håkan, Optimizing Products and Production Using Additive Manufacturing by Introducing Bionics into the Engineering Design Process, ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition., 2017