Spider Bracket Structure

Altair, Materialise and Renishaw collaborated to successfully create a lattice structured spider bracket; a functional structure which is lightweight, robust and reminds biological lifeforms. The design for the spider bracket was generated using Altair OptiStruct®, prepared for printing with Materialise software Magics, 3-matic and the Build Processor, to be 3D printed on Renishaw’s AM250 metal additive manufacturing system.

The spider bracket mimics the biological structures that can be found in nature. Altair’s topology optimization software created a unique, organic shape that is both light and strong. The lattice structures also provide stability and are desirable for thermal behavior. However, a topology optimized model needs sufficient smoothing before it can be printed.

The topology optimization resulted in solid regions and regions with a lattice structure. The irregular interface between the lattice and the solid mesh makes 3D printing difficult and can lead to stress accumulations. This means that the edgy geometry needs reconstruction. That’s where Materialise 3-matic software comes into play. With this design optimization software, the design engineers at Materialise easily transformed the rough data into a clean model with smooth surfaces.

After design enhancement, the engineers used Materialise Magics to add logos of the three companies, find the optimal orientation, position the part within the build envelope and generate support structures. Good support structures fulfills a larger purpose than just supporting the part during the build process. It also minimizes deformation so that the build process will not be terminated. With Support Generation Module for metal, it was possible to anchor the part and transfer the heat. As one of the trusted beta testers, Renishaw already has access to Materialise Magics, which provides even more control of support structures for metal 3D printing.