In the paper a digital material design framework is presented to compute multi-material distributions in three-dimensional (3D) model based on given user requirements for additive manufacturing (AM) processes. It is challenging to directly optimize digital material composition due to extremely large design space. The presented material design framework consists of three stages. In the first stage, continuous material property distribution in the geometric model is computed to achieve the desired user requirements. In the second stage, a material dithering method is developed to convert the continuous material property distribution into 3D printable digital material distribution. A tile-based material patterning method and accordingly constructed material library are presented to efficiently perform material dithering in the given 3D model. Finite element analysis (FEA) is used to evaluate the performance of the computed digital material distributions. To mimic the layer-based AM process, cubic meshes are chosen to define the geometric shape in the digital material design stage, and its resolution is set based on the capability of the selected AM process. In the third stage, slicing data is generated from the cubic mesh model and can be used in 3D printing processes. Three test cases are presented to demonstrate the capability of the digital material design framework. Both FEA-based simulation and physical experiments are performed; in addition, their results are compared to verify the tile-based material pattern library and the related material dithering method.

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