The first task is to develop a trade-off methodology, which will be applied during all following activities. On basis of this trade-off methodology, actual structure elements will be identified and ranked according to the cases A and B. Typical relevant parts will be those with a high buy-to-fly ratio and time-consuming or complex fabrication steps. Considering these aspects, additively manufactured parts are supposed to result in remarkable gains through the intrinsic capability of near-net-shape fabrication.
Subsequently, design proposals and manufacturing strategies will be developed. Thereby, the component requirements, which serve as constraints for the design, will be collected and described. In order to find a proper design and manufacturing strategy the characteristics of the AM-process will be taken into account. Restrictions with regard to the product design might result from the limited building angle or from the need of support structures. Apart from the design, the material choice will be considered, as it plays a key role regarding the resulting component dimensions. Therefore the importance of material costs vs. transportation costs (weight) will be contemplated and evaluated.
On basis of the defined design and manufacturing strategy, a number of parts will be processed and analyzed regarding the obtained accuracy and reproducibility. Furthermore, tests under mechanical load will give detailed knowledge of the part performance. Afterwards, the material properties as well as the mechanical behavior and the accuracy of the parts will be examined in order to verify their reliability. Dependent on the exact loading conditions and part geometry the tests will be conducted.
Finally, cost analyses will be conducted in order to quantify the gains resulting from lower weight and/or buy-to-fly ratio as well as from eventually shorter manufacturing time in comparison to the conventionally fabricated parts.