Three Big Benefits Provided by Optimal Metal Supports
1. Manage heat
Heat can be managed both on a large and a small scale. On a large scale, heat can be conducted efficiently from the part to the build platform by using solid support structures. In Materialise Magics software, solid support structures consist of volumetric support, cones and tree support. The solid support will conduct large parts of the heat, thus reducing internal stress and deformation. To manage heat locally, it’s best to use non-solid support like block support. Block support structures look like a grid of lines, each line with the thickness of the melt pool. Small teeth attached to the part will also dissipate heat and avoid dross formation.
2. Avoid deformation
In case the heat is not completely redirected to the build platform, thermal stresses may cause deformation. This can be the deformation of the entire part (warping) or local deformation, such as the affected geometrical accuracy of holes or the appearance of shrink lines. Solid support structures will counteract deformation by anchoring the part firmly to the build platform. Non-solid support will prevent deformation locally. By changing the orientation of your part or supporting it exactly where two zones within the same slice merge and create a shrink line, you can avoid local deformation.
3. Reduce build crashes
A powder-bed machine’s recoater system can have a significant impact on the part and its support structure during the build process, which might result in the part shifting or a collision that could damage the part and/or the recoater mechanism.
With the rescaled platform projection area tool in Materialise Magics, you can expand support structures and strengthen the connection with the platform. The teeth size, shape, penetration level and other parameters also influence the strength of the support structures. A strong connection to the platform with solid support (e.g. cones) is necessary to reduce build failures.
Metal Support in Materialise Magics
There is a wide range of different support structures available in Materialise Magics, each with its own unique benefits. Depending on the geometry of your part, a specific selection will lead to the best results. For instance, cones and tree supports are particularly interesting for small, thin parts and jewelry.
Materialise also provides fully automated software for metal support generation. More on that in one of our following posts!
Download this paper for more tips and tricks about Metal AM.