Part Consolidation is a very big area that has come into focus since Additive Manufacturing has become an ever-growing industry with a lot of industrial applications. Through additive manufacturing the function integration can be easily realized in the manufacturing process and is well practised to reduce the number of parts, assembly & maintenance time and overall saving costs. The Part Consolidation is therefore a big area in the optimisation section and can be realized using generative design. To prepare a Design Space for these kinds of optimisations we identified a workflow as well as new geometry tools that support the user during the creation process.
When dealing with Part Consolidation the starting point is often an already existing assembly. The parts of the assembly can be categorized into the following:
Consolidated Parts: These are included in the optimisation. They are the starting point for the initial Bounding Box Design Space for the optimisation.
Excluded Volumes: These volumes are not part of the optimisation but their geometry and place in the assembly need to be considered as void spaces in the final Design Space. It is also possible that some Access Regions as well as Clearance Regions need to be considered for these volumes.
Retained Volumes: A third group of components are not only place holders but they experience boundary conditions or boundary conditions are passed through these parts. They can be made of a different material than the Design Space. Retained Volumes should always be connected via Non-Design Spaces (including Machining Allowances) to the Design Space.
You can sort all of the parts of the assembly to these 3 different types of geometries and this is the start of the Design Space Creation Workflow for Part Consolidation.
The workflow can be separated into the following steps:
To support the creation of the initial Bounding Box Design Space the second method of the Design Space Tool is introduced as well as the two Geometry Tools Access & Clearance Region Tool. The Bounding Box method creates the initial Design Space from the original parts that are to be consolidated. Next the Non-Design Spaces are created on the original parts. The two other tools create the necessary void spaces for the Excluded and Retained Volumes.
The Access Region Tool is responsible for creating placeholders for void spaces which are necessary for installation and maintenance reasons. Further Information here.
The Clearance Region Tool is responsible for creating void spaces around parts which are part of the assembly but are not part of the optimisation model. Further information here.
If you want to include another material for your Retained Volumes, please assign the material to the respective parts before continuing.
After these geometry tools have been used, Machining Allowances are created on all functional surfaces. This step concludes the geometry preparation and the new Generative Design Configuration Tools comes into action. This tool helps the user to go through the different geometries needed or considered for the optimisation and concludes in a final Design Space. In the background Boolean operations are performed to consider all the selected geometries and create this final Design Space.
The rest of the model set up can take place on this final Design Space. The material can be defined and all the Loads and Boundary Conditions can be applied to the Non-Design Spaces. The optimisation settings are defined in the Studies Tab as usual. In the Loads & Constraints properties you cannot only find the Loads & Boundary Conditions applied to the Non-Design Spaces but also the ones applied to the Retained Volume so that they can be considered in the Events as well.