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Implementation of Sacrificial Support Structures for Hybrid Manufacturing of Thin Walls...

by Derek M Vaughan, Christopher Saldana, Thomas Kurfess, Andrzej Nycz
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Journal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing
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Thin-walled features can be difficult to produce with traditional machining methods which often rely on excess stock material for stiffness. This challenge is increased in hybrid manufacturing where the feature is already near net shape before machining. Significant workpiece deflection can result in poor geometric and surface finish tolerances on the finished part. A potential solution to this problem is to implement sacrificial support structures to the as-printed geometry. The supports are then machined away during the finishing portion of the hybrid process. In the present work, several different design parameters for these sacrificial supports were evaluated to determine their impact on the quality of representative thin wall geometry samples. The angle, height, and spacing of triangular support structures were varied for each sample and then machined and examined. The addition of these supports relative to an unsupported configuration provided a deflection reduction of around 0.2 mm. Surface roughness was improved by approximately 1.5 ┬Ám. Increasing values of support height were found to correspond to reduced wall deflection. Similarly, decreasing values of support angle and support spacing improved geometric accuracy. Efficiency comparisons showed that increases in print time corresponded to rapidly diminishing gains in geometric accuracy but continued to improve surface roughness. Implications for hybrid finishing of additively manufactured thin-walled structures is briefly discussed.