The removal of support material is a laborious necessity for the post-processing of powder bed fusion printed (PBF) parts, typically removed by machining techniques. These sacrificial supports are included to relieve thermal stresses and support overhanging parts often resulting in the inclusion of supports in regions not easily accessed by machinists. Recent advances have introduced dissolvable metal supports to PBF printed parts through an electrochemical etching process. Dissolvable support is appealing since it reduces the costs and time associated with traditional support removal. However, the speed and effectiveness of this approach is inhibited by numerous factors such as support geometry and metal powder entrapment within supports. To fully realize this technology, it is necessary to model and understand the optimization of support structure design within the context of dissolvable supports.
This presentation will detail an investigation into the impact of various support parameters on trapped powder and time required for support removal. By designing supports to decrease powder entrapment, the time needed to electrochemically etch the supports will be decreased. The specific impacts of hatch spacing, perforation height, and fragmentation separation in Materialize Magics block supports on this process will be discussed. Overall, the findings of this work will provide an effective means of implementing a model into support generation software that enables the generation of block support material that is optimized for minimized necessary etching duration.