Many industries approach additive manufacturing (AM) as a drop-in replacement for conventional manufacturing technologies. This approach, however, does not fully utilize the unique possibilities that additive processes offer. For over thirty years, AM has been extensively used as a rapid prototyping technology. When using the technologies for manufacturing, however, it should be noted that AM does not remove all manufacturing restrictions. It, instead, replaces them with a different set of design considerations that designers must take into account if they wish to successfully use the technologies to add value to their products. Otherwise AM can easily become a slow and uneconomical way of manufacturing products or parts.
It is also of great importance to understand that, despite much of the marketing hype over the past few decades, AM is not an “easy” technology that can make absolutely anything. It requires a good understanding of the different technologies and how to design for them. In fact, printing parts in metal, for example, can be downright hard, and the use of AM to manufacture metal parts should only be considered if the process truly adds value to the product.
This talk attempts to impart some practical guidance on the thought process required to design parts that gain the maximum benefit from what AM can offer, and on some simple design strategies that can be utilized to drastically reduce AM part costs.