Service provides on-demand design and optimisation

Additive Design Consultancy provides design and optimisation services for additive manufacturing
Established to provide design and optimisation expertise for additive manufactured components to the high end engineering industries, Additive Design Consultancy (ADC), is a new company, based in Essex.

It offers an on-demand service to design components for the process of additive manufacturing (AM).

"We believe additive manufacturing, and most notably metal AM, is a huge new design area that can be daunting for some customers," explains director Adam Arnold. "We provide expertise in the AM principles and the skill to apply it to the customer's product. This can be realised by either redesigning current parts or assemblies of parts, or - more excitingly - to design whole systems or products from the ground upwards, using this manufacturing technology."

One of the advantages of metal AM is that is can be used directly to replace difficult to manufacture or complex parts and assemblies that are already used, whilst giving a weight advantage at the same time.

"We can make products lighter and out of stronger and more exotic materials, they can even be hollow if necessary," continues Arnold. "Titanium is one of the widest used materials in this process, whereas if you are machining something it is usually made from aluminium. So we can enable performance and production gains for relatively little outlay."

He explains that AM has moved the traditional boundaries of mechanical design. "Let's think about a UAV wing. It is largely linear and straight, and has cut outs for ailerons and elevators. Is this the best shape or one that has been selected due to cost and linear forms of manufacturing? With AM, complexity does not make a great impact on cost…if we were making it using AM, could it be longer, narrower, more shaped like an albatrosses' wing to improve range for example? Could we have many individually controlled facets to mimic feathers for greater control? Could we do away with the rudder to reduce drag and give it a smaller radar signature? Could it bend in the middle to allow the UAV to drop like a Hawk to make extreme avoidance manoeuvres? These are the sorts of questions we like to address."

The consultancy uses a number of software packages to optimise parts structurally, to make the most of the AM process. This can lead to complex micro-organic forms internally, whilst maintaining a sleek outer shell for aesthetics, using advanced materials for strength.

"The problem for a small to medium business is if an engineer is not using the process or software all the time, especially with something as complex and open ended as AM, they will not get the best from the exercise," says Arnold.

Caroline Hayes

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