In the last decade, additive manufacturing technologies (AMT) have spread widely in the industrial field, mostly for fast prototyping but also for the production of finished parts that need a high level of customization. With respect to the well-established material subtractive technologies (MST), some limitations due to component shape can be overcome with AMT. Topology optimization (TO) combined with AMT is a powerful tool capable of realizing components characterized by similar stiffness but smaller inertia concerning those realized with MST. This tool can be very useful in automatic machinery design in order to reduce the required motor torque. In fact, in this realm, the mechanisms are usually subjected to predominant inertial loads. Moreover, since the introduction of fuse filament deposition modeling (FDM) of continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (CFRT), mechanical characteristics comparable to highperformance metal materials can be reached. Thus, rigidity and precision can be achieved as well.
In addition to TO, with FDM and size optimization (SO), the designer can easily realize components characterized by a proper stiffness to be included in mechanisms to tune their dynamic mechanical characteristics. In fact, due to their ability to passively store and release mechanical energy, elastic elements can be introduced in a mechanism in order to compensate for kinetic energy variations, which drastically reduce motor torque requirements. The required elasticity can be easily introduced in the mechanism by replacing standard kinematic pairs with Compliant Joints (CJ) in the form of flexible lamina, also assuring lightness, precision and ease of realization.
This paper analyzes the potentiality of FDM in combination with TO and CJ design (CJD) for the realization of automated machinery mechanisms subjected to inertial loads. A pusher mechanism is considered: the pros and cons of adopting the procedure are shown with respect to the standard procedure.