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Industrial Design for Additive Manufacturing

November 25, 2017

 

Additive manufacturing requires a new, different approach to the development of mechanical products and components. Gramm has developed a solution. We call it industrial design for additive manufacturing.

 

Industrial design as an expression originates in the beginning of the 20th century, in the most part in Germany. Thanks to the industrial revolution, a product was no longer crafted by its designer, but rather the designer created a product definition which was then carried out by a production line consisting of machines and workers.

 

This required a new way of thinking. A successful product design not only needs to work, it also needs to be manufacturable. And because of the separation of design and manufacturing, a designer no longer had an intuitive, implicit understanding of the manufacturing process. Costing, tolerances and part dimensions had to be put into design rules that were then taught to the designer.

 

It should be emphasized that additive manufacturing is about mass manufacturing of mechanical devices and components. Mass manufacturing means that many parts are produced, on an industrial scale. The parts do not have to be the same. A production line may produce many parts where each has a different shape and purpose. Or it may produce countless variations of one base shape. The simplest version is of course the mass production of the same item, many times over. This is the classical idea of series manufacturing that has been the result of tooled production lines. It can work in additive manufacturing, but it is by no means the standard case.

 

With additive manufacturing, designers need to learn new design rules, to understand how to design products that can be manufactured additively. They also need to learn new design methods, and software tools that implement them. For the most part this is due to the additive shaping principle that is a quality of any additive manufacturing process, but also the digital nature of additive manufacturing allows or needs new software tools, such as process simulation. But this is not enough. More is required.

 

The tool-free, digital nature of additive manufacturing changes the nature of product development. Designing a product is now a much more agile development process. Design changes can be made quickly, and tests can be carried out more easily, either digital or physical. This allows for a development process that is a lot like modern software development. Also, the large design space allowed by additive shaping and the large number of 3D printing technologies available require a bottom-up approach to design to manage the complexity of the design process.

 

Our product development process at Gramm is agile and considers the design rules of additive manufacturing. We start with an idea or concept, and produce both a product definition and a production plan. Due to its scalability, we can use the process for both small and large projects. Internally we are using it for industrial components and medical devices. But it can be applied to other industries and device categories, as well. You can learn industrial design for additive manufacturing by taking part in one of our courses. We teach the same methodology in the courses that we use ourselves every day.

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