You are here

Optimized Subtractive Manufacturing - Right Parts, Right Time, Every Time


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground Sea, Weapons, Air Platform

OBJECTIVE: Develop the ability to produce optimized (strength/stiffness/weight) part geometry, using lathes and milling machines as constraints, to feed Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software for machining centers.

DESCRIPTION: Currently, optimization software develops a mesh-based output for optimized parts. The user inputs the various parameters (required strength, stiffness, or weight) and the optimization code calculates the topology to meet the user requirements. This mesh-based output is not generally in a format directly usable to create a part by either additive manufacturing or subtractive manufacturing. For additive manufacturing, a second software suite is needed to process the mesh-based output into usable format to produce the part. The mesh-based output is unusable for subtractive manufacturing without significant engineering input.Additively manufactured components have an advantage of being able to be created in complex shapes, which are unable to be made using subtractive methods. However, the use of multi-axis numerical control subtractive manufacturing machines allows similarly complex shapes to be created. The issue for subtractive based manufacturing centers around tool-path and access (e.g., can the tool get into a space and move in the same space).The disadvantage of additive manufacturing is that both the process and material must be qualified and tested together in order to provide sufficient properties to be evaluated for airworthiness. Unlike additive manufacturing, components manufactured by subtractive manufacturing can be evaluated for airworthiness quickly by analysis. Analysis of subtractive manufactured components requires material properties from the manufacturer and part geometry in order to be evaluated for airworthiness.This SBIR topic seeks to combine the strengths of material qualification associated with subtractive manufacturing and the benefits of optimization software to provide the best possible parts in the least amount of time. To accomplish these goals, the Navy seeks the development of a software package that performs optimization for strength, stiffness, and weight as goals while using machinability as a constraint. The output from the Computer Aided Design (CAD) in the form of a common platform independent file type (e.g., Parasolid, Standard for the Exchange of Product model data (STEP), Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES), or ACIS). The output geometry should be optimized for the chosen objective and be machinable by multi-axis mill and/or lathe.

PHASE I: Design and develop a software to analyze/optimize a component for a particular objective (e.g. strength or stiffness or weight). Demonstrate the feasibility of the software to constrain the analysis/optimization using a multi-axis subtractive machine as a constraint (i.e. the component must manufactured on a multi-axis mill or lathe). The Phase I will include prototype plans to be developed in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and prototype the software design from Phase I and demonstrate its ability to analyze/optimize a component for multiple objectives (e.g., strength and stiffness). The software should constrain the analysis/optimization using a multi-axis subtractive machine as a constraint (i.e., the component must be manufactured on a multi-axis mill and/or lathe). Additionally, the software should incorporate “machinability” or ease/speed of manufacturing as a constraint. Lastly, use a design as agreed upon between the United States Navy and the performer to demonstrate the software, ending with the fabrication of a component optimized for strength, stiffness and/or weight to be made on a multi-axis mill and/or lathe.The output of the software will be a CAD file(s) of neutral file type (i.e., Parasolid, STEP, IGES, or ACIS) . The output geometry should be optimized for the chosen objectives (strength, stiffness, and/or weight) and be machinable by a multi-axis mill and/or lathe.

PHASE III: Validate previously developed parts optimized for multiple objectives through mechanical testing. Develop an interface to accept imported geometry from other CAD software packages. Develop a stand-alone interface or interface with an existing software company’s package (e.g., Solidworks, ANSYS, ABAQUS, and/or Altair).Successful development of this technology would benefit manufacturers and would speed the development of machined products, greatly reducing design cycles, and optimizing the performance of machined components for all industries. Both the aerospace industry and personal electronics manufacturing sector would benefit from this technology development.

KEYWORDS: Optimization, Machining, Modeling, Simulation, Design, Manufacturing


1. Liu, J. & To, A. C. “Topology optimization for hybrid additive-subtractive manufacturing.” Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, Volume 55, Issue 4, 2016, pp. 1281-1299. 2. Zuo, K.T., Chen, L.P., Zhang, Y.Q., & Yang, J. “Manufacturing- and machining-based topology optimization.” The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Volume 27, Issue 5-6, 2005, pp. 531-536.

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government