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LIGHT consortium metal additive manufacturing

LIGHT consortium metal additive manufacturing

Added to MTDCNC by AUTODESK on 23 December 2015

Leicester-based Magna Parva hosted the latest meeting of the LIGHT project consortium on 15th December 2015.  The meeting provided partners with the opportunity to review progress of three demonstrator parts that are in various stages of being prepared for production through metal additive manufacturing (AM) techniques.


Supported by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, the LIGHT project aims to implement and validate CADCAM solutions for lightweight components being 3D printed from metals.  Furthermore, LIGHT has investigated the use of novel low-density lattice structures to support overhanging geometries and so prevent deformation during printing.


Host Magna Parva presented a scale demonstrator of an earth re-entry capsule with lattice structures.  The design of the part’s lattice structure is being further optimised to produce a lighter part – the objective is to reduce the capsule’s weight by 50% while achieving the same mechanical properties of the traditionally manufactured part.


HiETA’s thrust nozzle demonstrator has also been manufactured and is now undergoing testing to verify its heat transfer and compression properties.  Optimisation results show that current design is capable of meeting the part’s design requirements with a significant weight reduction.


Important manufacturing lessons were learned during the production of the HiETA part. Researchers at EOS, who are undertaking the manufacture of the part, reported a 40% reduction in the build time of the latest iteration of the thrust nozzle.  This was achieved by adapting the parameters of machine on which the part was built to suit the geometry of the part, rather than simply using the standard settings that were used for previous builds.


The team from Bloodhound SSC, which is developing an airbrake door hinge as its demonstrator for the LIGHT project, reported that its design is now in the production engineering phase.  The latest design iteration has given serious thought to post-processing requirements.  With so much focus going in to topology optimisation and lightweighting, the subtractive processing of AM parts is often overlooked, causing problems downstream.  Manufacture of the part by project partner CRDM will commence before the end of the year.


As work continues on the demonstrators, Delcam and Simpleware have been busy developing the software that the other project partners are using to create the lattice geometries of their parts.  Feedback from consortium has led to a number of enhancements to the software, which is named PartBuilder.


Recent developments to PartBuilder include: an updated customer unit cell library (including the introduction of a double lattice gyroid cell), a custom cell filling algorithm, the integration of Simpleware DLL symmetry into PartBuilder and various upgrades to the user interface.  The LIGHT project partners will start using and testing the software as they prepare the final iterations of their demonstrators.

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