Additive manufacturing is increasingly leveraged for enhancing or improving product performance. Lattice structures are one common design technique. A lattice structure is a microarchitecture designed with a network of repeating crosshatch sections to create a specific pattern. Lattice structures are difficult to create with traditional manufacturing methods, making them unique to additive manufacturing. Using lattice structures in additive manufacturing software increases design versatility and customization in 3D-printed products.
While lattice structures are commonly used in metals, they also form intricate designs with impressive mechanical attributes in elastic or resin materials.
Benefits of Using Lattice Structures
Lattice structures can enhance product performance far beyond what traditional manufacturing methods are capable of attaining. The design benefits associated with lattice structures include the following:
The interlinking design of lattice structures reduces a product’s overall weight and can easily sustain a heavy load, despite the reduced weight, improving the strength to weight ratio.
Localization of Stiffness and Flexibility
Using lattice structures, additive manufacturing software allows designers to smoothly transition between stiffness/firmness and softness or flexibility in any given area of one product. For instance, manufacturers can manipulate the flexibility of a titanium bone product with a lattice structure and allow it to mimic bone movement. Lattice structures also allow different areas in one shoe midsole to have varying stiffness levels for optimized support and performance when walking or running.
Lattice structures in various products, including saddles or helmets, help absorb impact and reduce associated stress. Manufacturers build lattices around or inside products to safeguard them from damage when dropped, protect users from collisions, or smooth out energy rebounds for a better riding experience. Lattice structures bring far more control to designers for impact control, shock absorption, and even noise dampening.
Lattice structures have a higher surface area that can increase heat dissipation for metals or enable heat to escape for elastics or resins. The increased heat dissipation can also reduce thermal expansion in high-strength materials at elevated temperatures.
Unique Aesthetic Design
Lattice structures have always been present in nature and human anatomy. The visual appeal of the transparent nature of lattice structures also makes them popular in architectural designs like the Eiffel Tower. Since the unique design of a lattice structure is easily created with additive manufacturing, they have become notable for their aesthetic appeal as for their other mechanical properties.
These benefits make lattice structures an incomparable option when printing midsoles, outsoles, saddles, protective gear, bone structures, etc. Structures are easily adjusted to allow breathability or provide support.
Lattice software is currently separate from standard CAD software. Most CAD vendors provide dedicated add-on lattice generation modules to create lattice structures to fit aesthetic and performance needs. The lattice modules allow manufacturers to specify the properties of the structure and easily generate the design. The approach provides design freedom for countless lattice shapes and material qualities.
Using Additive Manufacturing Software to Design Lattice Structures
Innovative 3D printing companies are providing lattice software that is tuned to their solution – harmonizing software with material and 3D printing machines, providing greater accuracy and design flexibility. LuxCreo’s software, LuxFlow, is the CAD software used as the interface to access the LuxStudio generative design latticing software. With LuxStudio, manufacturers can input clinical assessments or other specified attributes, and the software will intuitively auto-lattice to ensure the specifications are met throughout. Paired with LuxCreo’s high-resolution 3D printers and high-performance production materials, lattice structures print with micron-level accuracy. LuxCreo also allows companies to send files of products/structures for on-demand or volume production at local smart factories, reaping the benefits of lattice structures and easily scaling production.
LuxCreo provides comprehensive and innovative solutions to manufacturing lattice structures with our software, printers, materials. For more information on how our products can help you improve your design quality, visit our contact page or call 1 (650) 336-0888.