Create lightweight, latticed designs that are functionally optimized and accurate for 3D printing

I would like to produce a tough print that can support weight and I’m interested to learn about FEM/FAI applications, which allow users to import STL designs and optimise internal lattices and skins for light-weighting, stiffness or flexibility. I have read about a new AutoCAD product called ‘Within’ <> that allows users to import STL designs and optimize internal lattices and skins for lightweighting, stiffness or flexibility. However, the software is not available as a demo, or for purchase. I’m trying Z88 Aurora <>, but am finding the learning curve steep and am not sure how well suited it is for conventional 3D printing. Does anyone here have experience with this type of optimisation software and how to apply it for printing with Lulzbot printers (TAZ 5, in my case).

Grateful for help.

-Peter, London

Peter, I love the direction of your curiosity on this. I believe what you are getting at is a giant topic of part optimization that is unique to additive manufacturing. It saves weight, increases strength in context specific ways, and and saves material - WIN-WIN-WIN. I would love if the internal geometry was modifiable in a FEM way. The same way as trabeculated bone for instance.

Despite the enthusiasm for this, I don’t have any meaningful solutions to help you out. Needs to happen though.

People who manufacture and design 3D printed or machined products usually do so in a 3D modeling program and have the OEM files to change as needed, and don’t need to modify the STL file. Yes I am aware of the Autodesk product and German Z88 software but I don’t think they are hobbyist grade.

Slic3r will allow you to effectivly do what you are looking to do by combining multiple STL files in the same model to vary density of the final structure. Here is an artical showing how that works,

Interesting concept to control internal infill. Usually folks just let the slicing software manage the infill by specifying pattern and infill percentage.

If you need to vary the infill density within the object, Simplify3D’s allows for multiple processes to be associated with the print. Each process can have different print characteristics such as layer height, perimeter layers, infill percentage… all of which affect the strength of a part. The processes are stacked, so control of the varying print features only work in the Z axis. A write up of the feature can be found on this page.

I think Cura allows for similar capabilities through the “Tweak at Z” plugin.