This best practice concentrates on factors that impact the quality, value,
and performance of FDM® production parts. There are a number of design
considerations, material choices and performance objectives that should be taken
into account when designing for additive manufacturing. Tailoring these decisions
to the FDM manufacturing process allows the benefits of FDM to be maximized.

1. Considerations in build orientation:

• Mechanical properties
• Aesthetics and surface finish
• Cost and time
• Accuracy

2. Self-supporting features
3. Tolerances
4. Holes
5. Minimum feature size
6. Text
7. Wall thickness
8. Support generation considerations
9. Leveraging design freedom

Build orientation should be considered as a precursor to any detailed design.Failure to consider build orientation early on will result in the need to compromise part quality and requirements at later stages of design.The current state of additive manufacturing technology results in parts that are highly anisotropic, making build orientation a critical design factor. Build orientation dictates the directional behavior of design requirements, including:

• Mechanical properties
• Aesthetics and surface finish
• Cost and time
• Accuracy

There are occasions when the best-case build orientation for a given design requirement often conflicts with the optimal build orientation of other part requirements. As such, a part should have build orientation selected as a precursor to any detailed design, as well as incorporating other multiple design requirements. Failure to select a build orientation early in the design phase results in a compromise that meets only the minimum design requirement, or worse, may eliminate or reduce certain requirements to accommodate the build process.The ideal time for choosing build orientation is after the concept design is completed but before detailed design requirements are implemented. 

Stratasys offers several material options with a range of mechanical properties. The primary consideration is to optimize for a weighted set of requirements including cost, build-ability, accuracy, aesthetics, mechanical properties and surface finish. From there, decisions can be made during the detailed design to mitigate the effects of anisotropy on secondary or lower-priority requirements.If strength is the highest priority and the material will be highly stressed, build orientation can be selected based on mechanical properties. In this case, negative impacts to the other design requirements should be mitigated in the detailed design. Ultimately, an experienced designer will be able to easily visualize an optimal build orientation for a preliminary design that satisfies a weighted set of design requirements, and make design decisions to meet the less-critical design requirements considering the locked orientation. Iteration from the pre-selected build orientation is often necessary as a design evolves.

For the complete document on this topic, please download it here.

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