Lattice Structures in 3D printing, How to Generate Lattice Structures, and the Benefits of Lattice Structures. Learn more now!
3D printing is known for its lightweight parts and strength. Lattice structures in 3D printing are used to create lightweight designs with intricate repeating geometric patterns as support structures. Lattices can be printed as internal support structures or standalone components. These structures can also be used to increase the surface area of an object for improved adhesion and added strength. These complex geometric support structures are only possible in 3D printing processes.
This article discusses the Pros and Cons of Lattice Structures for 3D Printing.
A lattice structure is a 3D-printed support structure with an internal composition of several interlocked lattice nodes, also referred to as "cells." This structure is often used to make parts lighter and absorb impact more efficiently. The geometric design provides strength and rigidity in 3D printed objects while minimizing the amount of material and time needed to manufacture them.
The concept is based on natural designs such as honeycombs, spiderwebs, lobster shells, and silica sponges. Machining these geometries was impossible on a small scale. The only viable examples that can be achieved are massive construction projects, such as bridges and steel buildings.
In the 3D printing industry, understanding how to use and create these structures is quite valuable for product engineers and industrial designers. Lattice structures significantly reduce a part's mass and have countless applications in the automotive and aerospace industries, where mass reduction in parts directly translates to improved fuel efficiency. Other sectors where lattice structures are often used include medical implants, prosthetics, and other applications where weight, strength, flexibility, and complex geometry are important considerations.
The complex geometrical designs used in lattice structures are unreasonable to include during the design phase with computer-aided design software (CAD.)
Generative design is another method for generating 3D-printed lattice structures. The software requires detailed part information, including the expected loads, mass limitations, and connection points. The software generates the most optimal lattice design, as well as cell structure and density. Factors affecting the part design include the lattice material, construction, and cell orientation. The materials may consist of a hard shell with a flexible interior lattice for impact absorption. The structure of repeating uniform patterns and cell shape substantially affect the final product. Cell orientation can complicate a 3D printing operation. Ensure that cells are oriented without requirements for additional support.
There are several types of 3D-printed lattice structures. These include the following:
There are several benefits to incorporating lattice structures into 3D-printed parts. These advantages include the following:
The lattice structures used in 3D printing include the numerous benefits mentioned above that significantly impact fuel savings, product costs, performance characteristics, consumer appeal, efficiency, and sustainability. With software that can quickly design these complex structures and given these numerous advantages, it is apparent that incorporating lattice structures is definitely worth the added effort in design.
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