After decades of standard engineering structures and with the rising demand of innovation in the industrial field, Engineers went back to nature to optimize the design of parts by making light-weight shapes, integrating internal features, or reducing the need for assembling separate components. This was made possible by manufacturing stronger structures that look like natural forms. Organic structures are becoming popular in the design field especially after the recent advancements in Additive Manufacturing (AM), where the material is only added where needed, to carry stresses and perform specific functions
SME Toronto Chapter 26 explored this niche market by visiting Anubis 3D, located in Mississauga, Ontario. Tharwat Fouad, founder of Anubis 3D, explained his journey of transformation in the Additive Manufacturing industry, from a focus on prototyping (which he considers the tip of the iceberg), to using AM technologies to achieve more efficient batching and customization of unique parts. Tharwat Fouad explained “Anubis 3D mainly uses SLS technology, and focuses on the area of material handling end of arm tools.”
The design lead, Mr. Joshua McCaugan, uses software called Inspire® by Altair, to design End of Arms (EoA) tools. The design team has nearly unrestricted freedom to design a part in order to optimize its functionality.
When building parts in an additive manner, new capabilities are enabled. First, by carefully controlling the fabrication of each layer, it is possible to fabricate functional mechanisms with a much simplified supply chain. By ensuring that clearances between links are adequate, revolving or translational joints can be created. Also, mechanisms or parts can be organically designed, that are topologically optimized to reduce weight and optimized for the function; rather than for the purpose of finding suitable components from standard engineering shapes such as beams and channels.
A Multi-Functional device used as an injection moulding End of Arm (EOA) gripper for an automotive manufacturer is shown above. Additive Manufacturing of organic-design inspired EoA Tooling provides the following powerful capabilities to ANUBIS 3D solutions.
- Integration of Functions: Combines gripping with suction cups
- Light-weighting: Reduces weight by 60% in the above part
- Material grading and different part properties: using two different materials for different properties such as high erosion resistance on functional surfaces and high toughness in core body parts
- Light weight quick connect with integrated vacuum channel for fast change over and mold set up. It takes 10 seconds to replace the tool
- A lightweight organic structure, engineered for uniform stress distribution, maximum stiffness with minimum material weight
- A complex design that provides more reliable components
Other Benefits of Organic Shapes:
- Reduction of stress concentrations
- Possible enhancement of fatigue performance due to homogeneous stress distribution
- Reduction of number of parts and joints due to combination of organic shapes with additive manufacturing of complex geometries
- Organic shapes seem to be favorable in terms of design for additive manufacturing because low volume structural elements do not build up high thermal stresses in the process as exemplary studies show
- Modern, fascinating and aesthetic structures
Using topology optimization an effective structure is calculated that transmits forces throughout the structure without using unnecessary diversion routes. In so doing, the material is used in the most effective way and lightweight designs can be generated that most often have an organic shape. Additionally, by avoiding force redirection, stress concentrations can be significantly reduced, which decreases strength requirements on the material and is expected to increase fatigue performance. The drawbacks of organic shapes are mostly due to the lack of knowledge in their application.
Limitations of the technology:
- Need for advanced CAE methods as well as experienced and well-trained application engineers
- Possible loss in robustness due to uncertainties when optimization methods are not applied with care and reasonable engineering interpretation
- High complexity and diversity of design solutions/organic shapes – leads to drawbacks in development cost, evaluation capacity and re-usability of design solutions
- Best practice guidelines for organic shapes and respective complex geometries need to be developed further
ANUBIS 3D’s decision to adopt the SLS technology ecosystem; was driven by their requirement to realize organic structural concepts, that optimize the tool’s stress distribution throughout an integrated and light-weighted design. ANUBIS 3D’s resultant success is owed to their inspired — and SLS enabled — application of winning, organic designs in End of Arm tooling. With every tool, enhanced mechanical performance is realized through a tough-enough stiffness to weight ratio for real world use.
ANUBIS 3D is expanding rapidly in North America mainly due to its inspired re-thinking of design. They are also supporting many university initiatives as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility undertakings.
SME Toronto Chapter 26 thanks ANUBIS 3D for their generous sponsorship and hosting of such a wonderful and engaging event.
To learn more about what ANUBIS 3D can do, visit https://anubis3d.com/ for full details.