Design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) gives designers new freedoms to create complex geometries and combine parts into one. However, it has its own limitations, and more importantly, requires a shift in thinking from traditional design for subtractive manufacturing. There is a lack of formal and structured guidelines, especially for novice designers. To formalize knowledge of DFAM, we have developed an ontology using formal web ontology language (OWL)/resource description framework (RDF) representations in the Protégé tool. The description logic formalism facilitates expressing domain knowledge as well as capturing information from benchmark studies. This is demonstrated in a case study with three design features: revolute joint, threaded assembly (screw connection), and slider–crank. How multiple instances (build events) are stored and retrieved in the knowledge base is discussed in light of modeling requirements for the DFAM knowledge base: knowledge capture and reuse, supporting a tutoring system, integration into cad tools. A set of competency questions are described to evaluate knowledge retrieval. Examples are given with SPARQL queries. Reasoning with semantic web rule language (SWRL) is exemplified for manufacturability analysis. Knowledge documentation is the main objective of the current ontology. However, description logic creates multiple opportunities for future work, including representing and reasoning about DFAM rules in a structured modular hierarchy, discovering new rules with induction, and recognizing patterns with classification, e.g., what leads to “successful” versus “unsuccessful” fabrications.

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