6 Common Mistakes in Designing Parts for Additive Manufacturing

6 Common Mistakes in Designing Parts for Additive Manufacturing

Whether you want to redesign products or transform R&D into the right business model, additive manufacturing (AM) is changing the face of industrial manufacturing. Also known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing offers a transformative approach to create lighter and stronger parts by the successive addition of material.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, creates physical objects from a geometrical representation by successive addition of material
The additive manufacturing (AM) technological advancement offers many business benefits to industries including healthcare, automotive and aerospace and defense, proving that it can be used as a mainstream manufacturing technology to bring flexibility and efficiency in manufacturing operations.

If you are planning to implement the new additive platform, it is easy to make mistakes without realizing. Being aware of the common mistakes that can be made during the design process can help reduce unnecessary costs and delays.

Below are the most common six mistakes you can make when you invest in an additive manufacturing system and how you can avoid them.

Selecting the Wrong AM System

Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) is increasingly important for maximizing the utilization of AM capability and avoiding possible manufacturing defects. Choosing an additive manufacturing system is complex. Even if you get the right system today, with the technology on a fast track and changing rapidly there’s a chance it may not serve all your needs.

You need a system that can be used to make the end products and meet your escalating work demands rather than build prototypes alone.

To select the right system, you need to identify the important factors like suitable materials and mechanical properties, quality of printed parts, post-print process, complexity, tooling time, tolerance, dimensions, and surface finish and precision.  In addition, you also need to keep in mind the resolution, maximum build envelope, and buying price.

Choosing the Wrong AM Software

When designing or redesigning products, the wrong software can cost you money. You will only be figure out the issue when problems surface. Therefore you have to select an all-in-one manufacturing optimization software solution in the additive manufacturing workflow.

Siemens NX Additive Manufacturing software offers an end-to-end 3D printing solution from design, through validation, to machine code generation.

Getting the Wrong Material

Not all material available can be used for creating products for additive manufacturing. Applying traditional standards to additive manufacturing may lead to problems. When selecting the material for an AM based product there are a few points that need attention.

Unlike traditional manufacturing, additive manufacturing processes give designers the flexibility to use new materials, and design or re-design existing parts for deriving greater value in terms of cost or performance. Therefore, it is important to have a complete understanding of the material and keep tabs on the performance parameters. Additive manufacturing creates parts in layers without using formative tools.

Design Issues in the Final Product

Designing for additive manufacturing is not easy. All parts manufactured with additive manufacturing need to perform safely and reliably in their operating environments. 3D printing comes with its own multifaceted problems that include support structures, wall thickness, and voids. For example, if the thickness of the wall is not right the product will collapse and the printing will fail. Even the layer-by-layer approach of a 3D printer will not work. The product functionality also gets compromised as hollow spaces filled with support structure cannot be removed.

Therefore, designers need to have a thorough understanding of this and have specialized training in additive manufacturing. Siemens NX Additive Manufacturing software gives designers the flexibility to push the limits of engineering design beyond the constraints of traditional manufacturing methods.

Unwarranted Post Processing, and Testing

In addition to printing a part, you have to plan for post-processing in the design stages for maximum efficiency. Post-processing can be expensive, and time-consuming. It is important to have the knowledge and understanding of the post-processing steps, required to reduce the effects of the AM process or enhance part properties. The process involves minimizing support material and machining to desired tolerances and heat treatment.

An end-to-end 3D printing design software for the industrial sector along with skilled designers can help shorten the learning process and reduce the time spent on post-processing.

Lack of In-house Expertise

With additive manufacturing technology advancing at a fast pace, finding the right skilled designers to grow the technology in your organization can be a challenge. Designing for AM often requires breaking away from conventional design, focusing on the functionality of the component and an ability to work in a rapidly evolving technology domain. The designer should understand the process parameters that can affect the final outcome of the geometry and material properties of the printed product. Therefore, you need to hire a designer who has a flair for creativity and innovative thinking in the fast-changing AM technical domain.

Cross-training the best talent from your team to get them up to speed with 3D printing and investing in incoming talent, will be the key to overcome this challenge.


In conclusion we can say that additive manufacturing is still growing and will capture a large portion of the manufacturing market in the coming future. To get the best AM system, assess the element and requirement for AM and then decide. You can also check if a combination of traditional manufacturing techniques and additive manufacturing works for you.

If you want further assistance you can contact us at PROLIM and we can help avoid painful and costly mistakes as your company switches to additive technology.

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