48-year-old Stuart Mitchell has been making knives for most of his life, learning from his father as a child and using many of the same tools his parents used in the workshop they acquired in 1980. In recent years, however, Mitchell began to explore alternative methods of crafting knives, which led him to additive manufacturing and a project he took on in partnership with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
Engineers in the Design and Prototyping Group used several additive manufacturing build simulation packages to analyze the distortion of the knife using a standard support strategy. After analyzing all of the results, the engineers decided that a non-conventional support strategy could be applied to reduce distortion of the blade. They then used Simulation Utility for Netfabb to create the non-standard support structure that provided physical contact to the knife as well as non-contact thermal shrouding.
Mitchell first discovered 3D printing when he saw a 3D printed composite wrench, but it took him a while to come around to the idea of using 3D printing to make knives.