Trees as efficient support structures in additive manufacturing


The project has the goal to develop a computer-aided tool that generates individual support structures in the form of trees for a given component by linking simulation and generative design. A critical requirement is the use in an industrial environment, which limits the time available for support structure generation as well as the required expertise in simulation and calculation. By replacing the regular, standardized support structures, as currently implemented in commercial software, with individual support structures, as well as incorporating the resulting temperatures and stresses by means of simulation, it is also possible for companies with little experience to reliably manufacture components using additive manufacturing. The core of the targeted method lies in the application of tree structures whose shape is generated by algorithmic, biological growth using methods of algorithmic botany. In order to ensure that the generated tree structures withstand the load requirements as a support structure, design rules are developed, which are introduced into the biological algorithm as restrictions. The central tool here is topology optimization, which has already proven itself in the design of optimal support structures, even if it is not suitable for everyday industrial use.


Duration: 01.07.2022 - 30.06.2023

Staff member in charge: Maria Isabelle Maiwald

Funding programme: Idea competition „Biologisierung der Technik“, funding section „Produktionsforschung“ 

Project management agency: Projektträger Karlsruhe(PTKA)

Project partner

Funded by Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)