I have seen videos or heard about 3D printed buildings, 3D printed space shuttle parts and more. There seems to be a lot of craze developing around 3D printed manufacturing.

I have never heard anyone discuss stress analysis of 3D printed parts. I have seen in the past that 3D printed plastic parts were rather fragile. However, it is possible that they were manufactured using the most coarse and cheap settings since they were just models of certain concepts.

Since we are moving to manufacture more and more things through 3D printers, has anyone done research into stress analysis on 3D printed mechanical parts?

  • $\begingroup$ Doing a stress analysis on 3D printed parts is no different from stress analysis on anything else. The research is mainly on material properties and failure criteria. Just one directory on the web lists suppliers of nearly 500 different 3D printing materials - this isn't only about PLA and ABS as used in hobby 3D printers. Much of the research is commercially confidential, of course. $\endgroup$ – alephzero Jun 26 '19 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ No I was wondering, are 3D printed parts really as strong and durable as the "normal" ones? If not, then why is there so much craze for 3D printing that is increasing? $\endgroup$ – quantum231 Jun 26 '19 at 21:56
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    $\begingroup$ To repeat myself, it depends what you print them from. Companies like GE and Rolls Royce are 3D printing jet engine components from titanium and aluminum, for example. Research has been in progress that sort of application for the past 20 or 30 years. $\endgroup$ – alephzero Jun 26 '19 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ Generative design is being used in combination with 3d printers to make parts that were never possible before. Like alephzero says there are companies digging really deep into it. $\endgroup$ – ShadowMan Jun 27 '19 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ 3D Printing is attractive for a similar reason that a touch screen interface is. It offers the designer more freedom. Even though the end result may be somewhat inferior, its more flexible allowing you to serve markets easier for a more fixed investment. In a way that is easy on the digital design platform $\endgroup$ – joojaa Jun 27 '19 at 7:08

They 3d print metal, concrete, alloys, and even bone from your own bone tissues. All have structural constraints that need to be worked at.

For example printing metal has temperature issues. Or 3d printing concrete can hardly have reinforcement in it. The try to use microfiber reinforcement.

They constantly test these materials under different circumstances and improve the systems. Obviously it's a very promising emerging field.

Considering centuries of experience that has gone into conventional methods of building things, like forging metals, casting, rolling, or huge construction projects like bridges or multi story buildings, any practical application of 3D printing for complex projects is far into the future.

A more realistic goal would be a mix of 3D printing and robotics post processing and assembly.


The analysis itself is exactly the same as in case of any other elements. Another point can be made on if you want to perform analysis of 3D printed element to see its residual stresses right after the 3D print or if you want to get the information how the element will perform once it is in-service. The first analysis will be highly dependent on the technology of 3D print and settings you have used in addition to the material used. Important part in determining in service behaviour is what are input and output data. Usually, in the input data one needs to consider the way the element has been built and the way the material is oriented to account for highly non-isotropic material properties dependent on the factors I have just mentioned.


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