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A Comparative Study on Optimal Build Orientation for Enhancing Mechanical Strength for Parts Produced By Fusion Deposition Modeling

Abstract: Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a Rapid Manufacturing process in which functional parts can be produced rapidly by depositing fused layers of material according to numerically defined cross sectional geometry. Parts produced by Fusion deposition modeling processes have anisotropic properties in both geometric form and mechanical strength. Build orientation is one of the key factors as it effects build time, support structure, dimensional accuracy, surface finish and cost of the prototype. This paper has presented a systematic survey on the selection of the optimum build orientation for enhancing the strength of parts that are to be fabricated through layer-based technologies. Build orientation of Rapid Prototyping In this part, we will discuss the importance of the build orientation selection. Previous works on determining the optimal orientation are reviewed here. 2.2.1 The importance of build orientation As more choices of materials and build processes become available in layered manufacturing (LM), it is increasingly important to identify fundamental problems that underlie the entire field. Determination of best build orientation is one important issue that must be considered in any LM process (Alexander, P., Allen, S. et al. 1998). It is crucial to choose a proper build orientation for the rapid prototyping. In the fabrication of RP parts, the quality of the prototyping, build time, the support structure, the build accuracy, part cost and load capacity, among others, can be greatly affected by the selection of part build orientation (Byun, H. S. and Lee, K. H. 2006). A better surface quality yields higher precision of dimensions, which can facilitate a more accurate test on assembly or functionality of the prototype parts. And surface quality of rapid prototype parts depends on the staircase effect on inclined planes and the curved surfaces. Build time is an important factor in building a part. If the same model takes a different orientation, the build time may vary since it is largely dependent on the height of a part. Furthermore, in the case of SLA, SLS and FDM, build time can differ greatly in terms of the amount of support structure. And build time generally consists of three elements: data preparation time, part build time, and post-processing time. The support structure costs money and affects the post-processing time; we must choose the orientation to handle this aspect. The part cost is a sensitive factor to the user or designer when determining the part orientation in RP. The cost includes the material cost (parts and supports), additional equipment cost (depreciation of machine), post-processing cost, and labor cost etc. The build accuracy depends on the staircase effect and volumetric error. And the designers should lower the volumetric error to get higher accuracy of RP model. At last, for the load capacity aspect, the same model build in different orientations can have great differences of the load capacity (Byun, H. S. et al. 2006).

2.2.2 Multi-objective algorithms for build orientation In the previous part, we talked about aspects which the build orientation can affect. However, it is impossible to satisfy all these aspects in one orientation. Then, researchers tried to choose two or three aspects which they think are important and used multi-objective algorithms to select the best build orientation based on some criteria. Most previous studies mainly focused on the selection of appropriate build orientation for general layer based manufacturing process (Ahn, D. et al. 2007; Ancau, M. et al. 2010; Firstly, previous reports about build orientation selection for general layered manufacturing (LM) process are reviewed here. Ahn et al reported a method for orientation selection to minimize the required post-machining region (RPMR) in LM. They used genetic algorithm to obtain reliable solution for a complex geometry CAD model, and the validity and effectiveness of the proposed methodology were tested by various experiments and applications (Ahn, D., Kim, H. et al. 2007). Ancau and Caizar took the surface quality of the prototype and the time of manufacturing into consideration as optimization criteria, and a mathematical model of the optimization problem was developed (Ancau, M. and Caizar, C. 2010). Based on the mathematical model, a practical method to find the Pareto-optimal set was developed as a main goal. To solve the optimization problem, a computer program for rapid prototyping processes simulation was designed. The program calculated the geometry of successive layers, as well as the necessary time for their materialization. Depending on the importance degree of each optimization criterion, the program claimed to offer the optimal solution. Byun developed the average weighted surface roughness (AWSR) method that was generated from the stair stepping effect, the build time, and the part cost using the variable layer thickness(Byun, H. and Lee, K. 2006). They used the multi-attribute decisionmaking method, and chose the best orientation among the orientation candidates from the convex hull of a model. (Byun, H. and Lee, K. 2003). After some years, Byun et al also used the simple additive weighting method for the decision making considering the surface roughness, build time and part cost. Kim et al reported a multi-objective fitness function for the optimization of the postprocessing time and cost was formulated by a genetic algorithm (Kim, H.C. and Lee, S. H. 2005). In addition, the number of layers was considered in preventing the model from rotating in the direction which required excessive fabrication time for the part. To accelerate the optimization, a conceptual simplification method of grouping facets was suggested and evaluated. Resulting application program was developed and verified for some practical models. Rattanawong et al determined the optimal orientation on the basis of the least amount of VE (volumetric error) (Rattanawong, W., Masood, S. H. et al. 2001). In their technique, it involved a primitive volume approach, which considered a part to be made from a combination of basic primitive volume. Cheng et al. used a multi-objective approach for determining the optimal part-building orientation (Cheng, W. et al. 1995). There were two objectives that were considered, the part accuracy as the primary objective and the build time as the secondary objective. The part accuracy weight was determined in terms of the surface types, and the build time was estimated from the number of slices. The orientation which can help the algorithm to get the maximum weight was the best one. If the values in other orientations were within a certain range from the

maximum as specified by the user, the secondary objective is adapted. In the same year, Frank and Fadel proposed an expert system that considers surface finish, build time, and support generation (Frank, D. and Fadel, G. 1995). Only the quality of surface finish was considered as the rules determining a preferred orientation. They talked about the geometric features such as holes, surface of revolution, round surface, thin structure, plane, and overhang; the users choose two important geometric features of a part. The appropriate orientation was then selected from the surface finish and the support structure of these two features. Build time was estimated by rough slicing of the part. Hu and Lee developed an optimization system that can be implemented with a user interface allowing the user to try various weighted values so that the optimized build direction was verified to reflect the users intention (Hu, Z., Lee, K. et al. 2002). To reduce the calculation cost, the system let the user select some build directions as candidates based on their experience, and calculates the cost of these candidates. Among these candidates, the one with the minimal cost was the best build orientation. Lin et al proposed a mathematical model to predict the layered manufacturing process error (Lin, F. et al. 2001). And an optimization algorithm to define the fabricating orientation based on the minimum process error for layered manufacturing fabrication had been developed. Case studies were shown to determine the preferred orientation candidates for fabricating spherical objects, cube objects and objects with irregular geometrical shapes. For build orientation selection in FDM, Pandey et al used a multi-criterion genetic algorithm to determine the optimal part deposition orientation for FDM parts considering the average part surface roughness and build time as objective functions (Pandey, P. M., Reddy, N. V. et al. 2007). Masood et al described a methodology for computing the volumetric error for any orientation of the parts built by the fused deposition modelling rapid prototyping system (Masood, S., Rattanawong, W. et al. 2003). The technique can be applied to determine the best orientation of the part, based on the minimum volumetric error. The technique was verified by comparing the results with the experimental measurements of the volumetric errors of the parts built at different orientations (Masood, S., Rattanawong, W. et al. 2000). And then they improved the algorithm to work for a part of any shape and complexity, with any slice thickness, and for the orientation of a part about any selected axis. The part orientation system based on this algorithm graphically displays the VE at different part orientations and recommended the best part orientation. Thrimurthulu presented an approach that determines the optimal part deposition orientation for FDM process too (Thrimurthulu, K., Pandey, P. M. et al. 2004). Two contradicting objectives, namely build time and average part surface roughness, were minimized by minimizing their weighted sum. The effect of support structure was considered in the evaluation of two objectives. Thus, the support structure minimization was also implicitly included in this work. The adaptive slicing was simultaneously used in the determination of optimum part deposition orientation. The predictions of the developed system were validated using the results published earlier. Two case studies were presented to demonstrate the capabilities of the system. The proposed methodology can be used to determine optimum part deposition orientation for any complex part that may be completely freeform. From the above review regarding build orientation selection for different RP processes, it can be seen that there is no in-depth investigation about the selection of build orientation for optimal part strength.