The project aims to develop lightweight and sustainable products via material design optimization and additive manufacturing (AM) which will significantly save materials and energy consumption in the production of high value products. As an innovative and promising material process technology, AM allows the rapid development of sustainable products through new lightweight material structure technology that utilises functional metal and plastic materials more effectively. It has the potential to produce high value aerospace, medical and engineering parts with minimum material waste and energy input. For certain complex parts, AM process can save up to 90% of the material compared to subtractive machining processes.
The objective of this project is to develop material design and process optimization technologies to maximise the material and energy efficiency in the AM process, thus aiding the development and production of sustainable products. The project is expected to deliver three innovative material and energy saving solutions: 1) A material design optimization technology to devise and optimize lightweight structures for low-mass sustainable parts; 2) A process optimization technology to identify the most energy efficiency AM process parameters (e.g. part orientation and layer thickness) for high quality parts; 3) An integrated design and process optimization technology to fabricate sacrificial support structures with the minimum material and energy input.