Designing 3D Printed Parts to Withstand Dynamic Loads

This guest contribution on Innovation Intelligence is written by Dhanushkodi Mariappan, Director at TechPassion. TechPassion’s VMAP is a comprehensive software tool for vibration testing on real-world engineering systems that seamlessly connects virtual simulation and physical testing. VMAP is available through the Altair Partner Alliance.

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing refers to a set of processes used to manufacture parts by material addition, typically in a layer by layer fashion. Making a part can be as simple as creating a CAD model of the part and hitting the print button. 3D printing minimizes the number of steps involved in manufacturing a finished part. In the early days, 3D printing was limited to prototyping plastic parts. Over the years, there have been several innovations in metal additive manufacturing and thanks to these innovations, we’ll soon be flying in planes powered by jet engines with 3D printed parts like the LEAP fuel injector manufactured by GE. Additive manufactured parts are lighter which reduces manufacturing and material costs. The number of parts is often reduced as well which reduces assembly steps leading to savings in labor costs.

It is well known that part designs are optimized considering the constraints of a manufacturing process and we refer to this process as design for manufacturing. However, designing for additive manufacturing is a complex process as 3D printing can provide significant design freedom. Design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) refers to the guidelines used to optimize the design of a part or product manufactured using 3D printing.

When designing a new product for automotive or aerospace applications, it is critical to consider the dynamic loads. Modal analysis is a time-tested analysis approach which reveals a part’s ability to withstand dynamic loads. Natural frequencies or resonant frequencies and mode shapes of a part are obtained by performing modal analysis. Modal analysis of a 3D printed part poses new challenges for designers:

  1. Changes in part designs from optimizing them for dynamic loads
  2. Material properties of an aluminum part made by casting will be different from the one made by 3D printing
  3. Monolithic parts versus parts consisting of assemblies

VMAP is modal testing and FEA-test correlation software product of TechPassion and it is available through the Altair Partner Alliance. VMAP allows engineers to analyze and test 3D printed parts and estimate their natural frequencies, damping and mode shapes. These results can be further used in the simulation process to perform transient simulation to study the effect of dynamics loads on parts. By utilizing modal analysis in the DFAM process, product designers can leverage the design freedom offered by 3D printing to make lighter parts, parts with fewer assemblies and more fuel efficient, quieter and longer lasting automobiles and aircrafts.

More information about modal analysis and the use of VMAP in designing 3D printed parts can be found by visiting or by emailing


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