Designing Flexible Features with Metal 3D Printing

Designing Flexible Features with Metal 3D Printing

 

 

What is a Flexure?

A flexure is a part feature that utilizes the elastic range of the material to create targetted flexibility. This allows compliance in desired degrees of freedom while remaining stiff in others.

FLEXURE (n.) A flexible feature, or combination of elements, within a part, engineered to be compliant in certain degrees of freedom.

Background

Flexures are used for precise adjustment in devices such as optical and actuating clamps – like collets and compliant features – where minimizing backlash is crucial. Based on their geometric complexity, fine features, and susceptibility to vibration, flexure designs are challenging to achieve using traditional manufacturing methods.

Challenges

More times than not, flexures call for comprehensive, multi-step manufacturing processes. Some of which include wire EDM, water jet, brazing and combinations thereof – to achieve the desired geometry. Generally, every additional degree of freedom within a flexural mechanism requires its own manufacturing considerations (different setups, many parts, different processes, attaching multiple stages). These technical and procedural complexities contribute to a challenging and time-consuming workflow to conquer the necessary compliance adjustment.

Solution

The Studio System offers design flexibility required for producing complex flexures without the cumulative manufacturing processes needed with traditional methods. Instead of designing a part for costly, multi-step manufacturing processes, and spending hours, or even days, producing custom work to hold fixtures, engineers and designers can now print fine, complex features directly. This introduces new capabilities for product development through on-demand manufacturing. With metal 3D printing, you now have the opportunity to produce custom and complex flexure part features in a single process.

 

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