This research aims at unleashing the potential of additive manufacturing technology in industrial design that can produce structures/devices with irregular component geometries to reduce sizes/weights. We explore, by means of path-finding, the length minimization of freeform hydraulic piping network in compact space under given constraints. Previous studies on path-finding have mainly focused on enhancing computational efficiency due to the need to produce rapid results in such as navigation and video-game applications. In this research, we develop a new Focal Any-Angle A* approach that combines the merits of grid-based method and visibility graph-based method. Specifically, we formulate pruned visibility graphs preserving only the useful portion of the vertices and then find the optimal path based on the candidate vertices using A*. The reduced visibility graphs enable us to outperform approximations and maintain the optimality of exact algorithms in a more efficient manner. The algorithm proposed is compared to the traditional A* on Grids, Theta* and A* on visibility graphs in terms of path length, number of nodes evaluated, as well as computational time. As demonstrated and validated through case studies, the proposed method is capable of finding the shortest path with tractable computational cost, which provides a viable design tool for the additive manufacturing of piping network systems.

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