Service AM Expo 2023

Support structures as a critical factor

One of the most decisive factors in the metallic LPBF process is probably the support structures of the components. Within Unlimital AG, we are focusing on developing further in this area in particular.

Metallic 3D printing using the LPBF process offers a wide range of interesting and innovative application possibilities. However, the exciting capabilities of the technology also places very high demands on the technical skills within production. One of these critical factors is the alignment and support structure in preparation for the production process. In the metallic process, the support structure takes on the central function of a classic support and also serves as a heat conductor in production to minimize stresses in the component.

As an application specialist, we attach great importance to continuous development in the field of support structures and to finding the most innovative ways possible for an optimal production. The right support structure can be a decisive factor in production. It decides on the necessary post-processing steps or a possible construction job abort. It also has a major influence on the surface quality of the printed part.

True to the motto "as much as necessary, as little as possible", we design our support structures with the latest software and implement the knowledge we have gained in the construction process of the parts. By consistently following this strategy, costs, error rates as well as delivery time for the customer can be minimized. Two factors are crucial here:


The component design has a direct influence on the required support structures as well as the surface quality and producibility of the parts. Classical approaches to design are discarded and in some cases more complex free-form geometries are used to make the component easier to produce. We check the producibility of each component and are in close exchange with our customers for adjustments in order to always keep the costs as low as possible and to achieve an optimal result.

Support structures

The right support structure in the right place on the component can determine the success of the production process. A wide variety of designs are used within a component, which are specifically geared to the requirements of the surface in question. For example, support structures are used explicitly for heat dissipation or to support overhanging geometries. Within a single part, a wide variety of lattice structures, solid material or special implicit designs can be used.

The efficient implementation

The implementation of these two aspects requires not only great know-how but also very extensive software. We rely on the CAD software SiemensNX. This allows us not only to fully exploit the construction and design possibilities, but also offers us the possibility to define various support structures in the same program. This combination saves an enormous amount of time in the preparation of the construction job as well as in the definition and programming of any post-processing steps in the CNC area.


Do you have questions about the general conditions and functions of support structures & the production process in additive manufacturing? Visit us in the partner zone of AMX (booth C1081) and we will be happy to discuss this hot topic with you over a cold beer.