New project: Optimisation of frame supports in additive manufacturing

A collaborative project between HELMo-Gramme and Sirris aims to optimise the production of supports in metal additive manufacturing in order to increase the reliability of production and reduce costs. 

In a few years, 3D printing has captured an extremely important position in the production of metal components. Nevertheless, there are still technical obstacles which increase the costs of production and reduce the capacities of tools. 

In order to be manufactured layer by layer, a part must be held on the manufacturing platform by supports. These also have the function of holding the melted zones when spreading a new layer and improving local dissipation of heat from the laser which densifies the powder. They are complex and play a significant role in the price, reliability and quality of the product. The manufacturing of supports slows the printing process and consumes material. They must be removed after construction, which then requires finishing work and marks may be left on surfaces. Therefore, good design for the supports is paramount. 

There are tools available but they are essentially automatic and do not take account of the material used, manufacturing technology and the part to be manufactured. Yet, these parameters, amongst others, are fundamental in achieving optimum results.

Breaking of supports following internal stresses (Thales Alenia Space part – by Sirris) 

A two-year First Haute Ecole project between CRIG (Centre de Recherche des Instituts Groupés within HELMo) and Sirris was launched to investigate this issue. 

The objective of the OSAM project will be to collect and test new solutions to optimise the production of supports in order to improve additive manufacturing. 

The AM Metal technique studied is Laser Beam Melting (LBM). The optimisation project covers several parameters:

  • The type of part (fine partitions, lattices, solid parts, etc.)
  • The position of it in the manufacturing bench (platform/part edge distance, surface angle to be supported, height of the supports, etc).
  • The type of support (posts, lattice, walls, shafts, etc.)
  • Tools (software) for automatically generating supports (Marcam, Magics, …)
  • Manufacturing parameters (laser power, scanning speed, etc.)
  • Platform/support connection (type of join, width, etc.) 


David Reuter,