LENS® and SFF: Enabling technologies for optimized structures

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



Optimized, lightweight, high-strength structures are needed in many applications from aerospace to automotive. In pursuit of such structures, there have been proposed analytical solutions and some specialized FEA solutions for specific structures such as automobile frames. However, generalized 3D optimization methods have been unavailable for use by most designers. Moreover, in the cases where optimized structural solutions are available, they are often hollow, curving, thin wall structures that cannot be fabricated by conventional manufacturing methods. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Rhode Island teamed to solve these problems. The team has been pursuing two methods of optimizing models for generalized loading conditions, and also has been investigating the methods needed to fabricate these structures using Laser Engineered Net Shaping™ (LENS®) and other rapid prototyping methods. These solid freeform fabrication (SFF) methods offer the unique ability to make hollow, high aspect ratio features out of many materials. The manufacturing development required for LENS to make these complex structures has included the addition of rotational axes to Sandia's LENS machine bringing the total to 5 controlled axes. The additional axes have required new efforts in process planning. Several of the unique structures that are only now possible through the use of SFF technology are shown as part of the discussion of this exciting new application for SFF.

Publication Title

18th Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, SFF 2007

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