Lightweighting with Additive Manufacturing 271

“Lightweighting with Additive Manufacturing 271” describes the methods by which additive manufacturing can facilitate lightweighting, which is a design method that reduces the weight of manufactured parts and products without reducing their functionality. The class focuses on material reduction, topology optimization, and lattice structures in additive manufacturing.

After completing this course, users will be able to identify key industrial applications and methods of lightweighting with additive manufacturing, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of lightweighting in this way.

Class Details

Class Name:
Lightweighting with Additive Manufacturing 271
Number of Lessons:

Class Outline

  • Lightweighting in Manufacturing
  • Lightweighting with Additive Manufacturing
  • Additive Manufacturing Methods for Lightweighting
  • Industrial Applications of Lightweighting
  • DFAM and Lightweighting
  • Review: Lightweighting with AM
  • Topology Optimization
  • Lattice Structures
  • Advantages & Disadvantages of Lightweighting
  • Review: Lightweighting with AM


  • Define lightweighting.
  • Describe how additive manufacturing can be used for lightweighting.
  • Describe additive manufacturing methods for lightweighting.
  • Describe key industrial applications of lightweighting.
  • Describe how design for additive manufacturing contributes to lightweighting.
  • Describe topology optimization for lightweighting.
  • Describe lattice structures for lightweighting.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of lightweighting with additive manufacturing.

Job Roles



Vocabulary Term Definition
additive manufacturing AM. The process of successively layering materials to make an object based on a three-dimensional computer model. Additive manufacturing allows for rapid prototyping, mass customization, and increased part complexity.
AM Additive manufacturing. The process of successively layering materials to make an object based on a three-dimensional computer model. AM allows for rapid prototyping, mass customization, and increased part complexity.
CAD software Computer programs used to create a digital model of a part before it goes into prototyping or production. CAD software creates digital models that are converted to a format used by additive manufacturing machines.
carbon fiber A material consisting of thin, strong crystalline filaments of carbon. Carbon fiber is a popular substitute for heavier metals in lightweighting.
carbon footprint The amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, or other organization. Entities often seek to reduce their carbon footprint for environmental reasons or to meet regulations.
continuous improvement An ongoing effort to make products, services, or processes better. Continuous improvement identifies opportunities for improvement, takes action to achieve this, analyzes the results, and implements workable solutions.
density Mass per unit volume. Material density is a consideration of lightweighting, which aims to create parts of lower density but equal strength.
deposition head A nozzle that melts and dispenses material. Deposition heads are used in directed energy deposition processes.
design for additive manufacturing DFAM. The methodology of planning, testing, and creating an additively manufactured part that functions optimally. Design for additive manufacturing allows engineers to focus on part functionality.
directed energy deposition DED. An additive manufacturing method in which focused thermal energy is used to melt materials as they are deposited on a build platform. Directed energy deposition is often used with metal powder or wire.
fuel efficiency The capacity of an engine, especially that of a vehicle, to obtain energy from fuel. Fuel efficiency is often a desired outcome of lightweighting.
image projection module An assembly of components that focuses and directs the movement of a laser or electron beam in a specific pattern. Image projection modules are used during powder bed fusion processes.
inertia The tendency that objects have to resist changes to their state of motion. Inertia causes an object to either remain at rest or in its original state of motion until it is acted upon by an outside force.
inspection The examination of a part during or after its creation to confirm that it adheres to specifications. During inspection, defects may be identified and corrected.
laser An intense beam of light that can be precisely aimed and controlled. Lasers are sometimes used to selectively solidify or combine materials in additive manufacturing methods, including directed energy deposition and powder bed fusion.
lattice structures A repeating, symmetrical pattern of crossing strips of material that leave diamond- or square-shaped gaps between them. Lattice structures provide excellent strength to a part.
learning curve The rate of a person's progress in gaining experience or new skills. A steep learning curve can increase labor costs when new technologies or processes are adopted.
lift force The sum of all the forces on a body that force it to move perpendicular to the direction of flow. Lift force allows aircraft to fly.
lightweighting In manufacturing, reducing the weight of a part or product without altering its function. Lightweighting results in parts and products that are less heavy than previous iterations.
loads The opposition to applied force, such as a weight to be carried or moved. Designers must consider the loads a part will bear.
machining A subtractive manufacturing process that involves removing material to form an object. Machining includes methods such as milling, turning, and drilling that remove metal using cutting tools.
mass The amount of matter contained within an object. Mass gives an object weight when it is acted upon by gravity.
material jetting An additive manufacturing method in which droplets of build material are selectively deposited onto a build platform. Material jetting uses ultraviolet light to cure photopolymer build material.
material reduction Decreasing the amount of a substance required for a build. Material reduction results in a lighter part or product.
material substitution Swapping one substance for another in the manufacture of a product. Material substitution of a lighter substance for a heavier one is a popular method of lightweighting.
melt pool The small area of molten material that forms during directed energy deposition. Melt pools form a permanent material layer when they cool.
part design The consideration of how a single part should best be designed geometrically. Part design is a kind of design for additive manufacturing.
photopolymer A thermoset polymer that cures and hardens when exposed to light. Photopolymers are used in material jetting.
powder bed fusion PBF. An additive manufacturing method that uses thermal energy to either sinter or melt together layers of powdered polymer, metal, ceramic, or other material. Powder bed fusion processes often use either lasers or electron beams as thermal energy sources.
print heads The moving component on a printer that holds and distributes the part build material. Additive manufacturing machines, such as material jetting or binder jetting, have print heads.
prosthetics An artificial body part. Prosthetics can be made more flexible and durable by lightweighting methods.
simulation software A program that allows the user to observe an operation without actually performing that operation. Simulation software is used widely to design equipment so that the final product will be as close to design specifications as possible without expensive modification.
strength-to-weight ratio The relationship between a material's strength and its weight. Materials that are light but also very strong have a high strength-to-weight ratio.
stress A force that attempts to deform an object. Common forms of stress include compression, shear, and tensile.
substrate A surface or medium that serves as a base for other materials or components. Some directed energy deposition processes deposit materials onto substrates rather than a build platform.
system design The consideration of what should be manufactured using additive manufacturing and what the component boundaries should look like. System design is a kind of design for additive manufacturing.
thermal energy Energy in the form of heat. Thermal energy is used to fuse materials together in some additive manufacturing methods, such as directed energy deposition and powder bed fusion.
thrust A force that occurs when an object accelerates in one linear direction. Thrust can be measured in pound-force or newtons.
TO Topology optimization. A mathematical method that optimizes material layout within a given design space for a given set of loads, boundary conditions, and constraints with the goal of maximizing the performance of the system. TO is a potent tool for lightweighting.
tolerances An unwanted but acceptable variation or deviation from a desired dimension of a part. Within a given range of tolerances, a part will still meet specifications.
topology optimization TO. A mathematical method that optimizes material layout within a given design space for a given set of loads, boundary conditions, and constraints with the goal of maximizing the performance of the system. Topology optimization is a potent tool for lightweighting.
ultraviolet light UV light. A potentially harmful wavelength of light that is below, or shorter, than violet on the light spectrum. Ultraviolet light is used to selectively solidify liquid photopolymer in material jetting.
uniform lattice A structure with identical unit cells repeated in every direction.
unit cells The smallest group of space in a material that constitutes a repeating pattern. Repeated unit cells make up a lattice structure.
variable lattice A structure with unit cells of varying size or spacing in different directions.
wind turbines A machine for generating electricity using a large, vaned wheel rotated by the wind. Wind turbines can be made more efficient by using lightweighting.