Additive Manufacturing to Advance Functional Design: an Application in the Medical Field

[+] Author and Article Information
Claudio Comotti

University of Bergamo

Daniele Regazzoni

University of Bergamo

Caterina Rizzi

University of Bergamo

Andrea Vitali

University of Bergamo

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4033994 History: Received February 05, 2016; Revised June 16, 2016


The improvement and the massive diffusion of Additive Manufacturing (AM) techniques have fostered the research of design methods to exploit at best the feature introduced by these solutions. The whole design paradigm needs to be changed taking into account new manufacturing capabilities. Additive manufacturing is not only an innovative method of fabrication, but it requires a new way to design products. Traditional practices of mechanical design are changing to exploit all potential of AM, new parameters and geometries could be realize avoiding technologies constrains of molding or machine tooling. The concept of “manufacturing for design” increasingly acquires greater importance and this means we have the chance to focus almost entirely on product functionality. The possibility to confer inhomogeneous properties to objects provides an important design key. We will study behavior and structure according to desired functions for each object identifying three main aspects to vary: infill type, external topology and shape, and material composition. In this research work we focus on FDM technology of 3D printing that easily allow to explore all previous conditions. We present a new way to conceive design process in order to confer variable properties to AM objects and some guidelines to control properties of deformation and elasticity using classic infills. The ultimate aim is to apply new design rules provided by AM in the prosthetic field of lower limb amputees. The socket of the prosthesis represents a deformable interface between the residual limb and the artificial leg that must be optimize according to geometry and loads distribution of patient. An application for a transfemoral patient will be discussed.

Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME
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