Practical Implementation of Functionally Graded Lattice Structures in a Bicycle Crank Arm
Functionally graded lattice structures (FGLS) were studied thoroughly for the past years, mostly focusing on specific synthetic tests in the context of additive manufacturing while rarely being actually applied outside of this specific domain. This paperexamines a way to practicallyimplement themin a commonly used applianceand study their potential for its improvement. Abicycle crank arm was chosen for this purpose, and a solid aluminium reference model (Shimano FC-R450-453)is usedas a performance baseline.The novel design is composed of ahollow body containing a beam-based, non-stochastic, functionally graded lattice structure and is plannedto be manufactured on a Markforged Metal X system using 17-4 PH stainless steel.It aims to increasethe total stiffnessunder EN ISO 4210 8 norm loading conditions compared to the reference model while limitingmass and stress values to acceptable degrees.Two crank arm variants, containing a face-centred cubic (FCC) and re-entrant auxetic lattice respectively, are optimised by locally altering their beam radiiin eight separate regions.The displacement at the load application point isminimised using Altair OptiStruct and HyperStudy. The reference crank, weighing 213g, exhibitsa deflection magnitude of 7.1mm in the most demanding load case while the newly designed and optimised versions only showed displacements of 2.52mm (FCC lattice, 340g) and 2.58mm (re-entrant lattice, 339g) respectively. In addition, the stress distribution was significantly enhanced compared to the reference model, as the latter would not pass the fatigue tests required by the norm. This demonstrates that FGLS, in combination with high-strength materials and additive manufacturing,canincrease the performance of many parts, although in this case, with a trade-off in terms of its mass. In future projects, it might be considerably reduced by utilising alternative lattice typeslattices or other materials while preserving the benefits of FGLS.
Keywords - Additive Manufacturing, Functionally Graded Lattice Structures, Design Exploration, Finite Element Method, Cellular Structures