One of the primary challenges faced in Additive Manufacturing (AM) is reducing the overall cost and printing time. A critical factor in cost and time reduction is post-processing of 3D printed (3DP) parts, of which removing support structures is one of the most time consuming steps. Support is needed to prevent the collapse of the part or certain areas under its own weight during the 3D printing process. Currently, the design of self-supported 3DP parts follows a set of empirical guide lines. A trial and error process is needed to produce high quality parts by Fused Depositing Modeling (FDM). The usage of chamfer angle with a max 45° angle form the horizontal for FDM is a common example. Inclined surfaces with a smaller angle are prone to defects, however no theoretical basis has been fully defined, therefore a numerical model is needed. The model can predict the problematic areas at a print, reducing the experimental prints and providing a higher number of usable parts.

Physical-based models have not been established due to the generally unknown properties of the material during the AM process. With simulations it is possible to simulate the part at different temperatures with a variety of other parameters that have influence on the behavior of the model. In this research, analytic calculations and physical tests are carried out to determine the material properties of the thermoplastic polymer Acrylonitrile - Butadiene - Styrene (ABS) f or FDM at the time of extrusion. This means that the ABS is going to be extruded at 200°C to 245°C and is a viscous material during part construction.

Using the results from the physical and analytical models, i.e., Timoshenko’s modified beam theory for micro-structures, a numerical material model is established to simulate the filament deformation once it is deposited onto the part. Experiments were also used to find the threshold for different geometric specifications, which could then be applied to the numerical model to improve the accuracy of the simulation. The result of the finite element analysis is compared to experiments to show the correlation between the prediction of deflection in simulation and the actual deflection measured in physical experiments.

A case study was conducted using an application that optimizes topology of complex geometries. After modeling and simulating the optimized part, areas of defect and errors were determined in the simulation, then verified and and measured with actual 3D prints.

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