Design for Additive Manufacturing Considerations for Self-Actuating Compliant Mechanisms Created via Multi-Material PolyJet 3D Printing
Meisel, Nicholas Alexander
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The work herein is, in part, motivated by the idea of creating optimized, actuating structures using additive manufacturing processes (AM). By developing a consistent, repeatable method for designing and manufacturing multi-material compliant mechanisms, significant performance improvements can be seen in application, such as increased mechanism deflection. There are three distinct categories of research that contribute to this overall motivating idea: 1) investigation of an appropriate multi-material topology optimization process for multi-material jetting, 2) understanding the role that manufacturing constraints play in the fabrication of complex, optimized structures, and 3) investigation of an appropriate process for embedding actuating elements within material jetted parts. PolyJet material jetting is the focus of this dissertation research as it is one of the only AM processes capable of utilizing multiple material phases (e.g., stiff and flexible) within a single build, making it uniquely qualified for manufacturing complex, multi-material compliant mechanisms. However, there are two limitations with the PolyJet process within this context: 1) there is currently a dearth of understanding regarding both single and multi-material manufacturing constraints in the PolyJet process and 2) there is no robust embedding methodology for the in-situ embedding of foreign actuating elements within the PolyJet process. These two gaps (and how they relate to the field of compliant mechanism design) will be discussed in detail in this dissertation. Specific manufacturing constraints investigated include 1) "design for embedding" considerations, 2) removal of support material from printed parts, 3) self-supporting angle of surfaces, 4) post-process survivability of fine features, 5) minimum manufacturable feature size, and 6) material properties of digital materials with relation to feature size. The key manufacturing process and geometric design factors that influence each of these constraints are experimentally determined, as well as the quantitative limitations that each constraint imposes on design.
- Doctoral Dissertations