LLNL teams up with Autodesk to explore design software for AM of advanced materials

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), under an 18-month Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), will use Autodesk Inc.’s state-of-the-art software for generative design, as it studies how new material microstructures, arranged in complex configurations and printed with AM techniques, will produce objects with advanced physical properties.

In this project, LLNL researchers will bring to bear various technologies, such as additive manufacturing, material modelling and architected design, which is arranging materials at the micro and nanoscale through computational design.

The research team has selected next-generation protective helmets as a test case for their technology collaboration. LLNL will be working with the firm’s in-house research group, Autodesk Research.

According to Mark Davis, Autodesk’s senior director of design research, the helmet design is an excellent example of a design problem with multiple objectives, such as the constraints of desired weight, cost, durability, material thickness and response to compression.

With the goal-oriented design software tools, LLNL and Autodesk expect to generate and analyze the performance of very large sets of different structural configurations of material microarchitectures.

Helmets represent a class of objects whose internal structures not only need to be lightweight, but also must absorb impact and dissipate energy predictably. Advanced AM techniques are expected to allow the research team to produce complex material microstructures that will dissipate energy better than what is currently possible with traditionally manufactured helmet pads such as foams and pads.

It seems that it has yet to be determined that what kinds of helmets will be designed under the CRADA, but sports helmets, including football, baseball, biking and skiing, are possible.

Using high-performance computing, new materials are modelled virtually and then optimized computationally. The Lab is simultaneously advancing the science of additive manufacturing and materials science, as demonstrated by its work in micro-architected metamaterials (artificial materials with properties not found in nature).