Abstract

Anisotropy and omnidirectionality are the two most significant impediment to the growth of Additive Manufacturing (AM). While anisotropy is a property of the part, omnidirectionality is a characteristic of the machine tool. Omnidirectionality, implying invariance in AM processes with the goal of minimizing variations in material and geometric properties of the as-built parts, is often ignored during systems and process design. Disregard to directional sensitivity, which in some cases are inherent to the process (and/ or system), inadvertently changes the process parameter in-situ consequently, producing parts with non-uniform and often erratic properties. AM, attributing to its sheer number of processing variables, is especially susceptible to this subtle, yet significant system property. While some AM platforms, due to their nature of part production, are inherently omnidirectional, others require additional setup to ensure the same. Having an omnidirectional AM platform ensures that the parts are fabricated with process variables which are equally sensitive in all directions. In most AM systems, given a fixed set of process parameters, the spatial orientation of fusion (or joining) source vector, feedstock-delivery vector, and travel direction vector relative to each other governs omnidirectionality. Inconsistency or change in orientation of these three vectors results in non-uniform part properties and variations in geometric dimensions. Therefore, AM systems have to be omnidirectional to improve part performance and promote industrial acceptance. This article, through a formal definition of omnidirectionality, analyses these three vectors individually along with their interplay with other process parameters and design variables.

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