Design for Additive Manufacturing (D4AM)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

3D printing technologies are sufficiently well-developed that basic printers are almost becoming commodity items. In the main, these technologies are most commonly used as a development or prototyping tool, or by hobbyists for one-off items. The slogan 'if you can imagine it you can make it' has become ubiquitous amongst promoters of these technologies. Claimed advantages include making shapes that were not previously producible, producing near-net shape components at low production volumes, eliminating tooling costs or design change costs, eliminating stock holding or minimum order sizes, reducing assembly effort by component integration, and components which use significantly less material, etc. However, even for experienced designers, the claimed advantages do not match their experiences. Initial optimism is typically followed by disillusionment, evident to designers when they realise that the 'promised land' is not quite as easy to reach as they thought. Far from being 'skill free', designers must develop a new skill-set and knowledge based around advanced 3D modelling and the individual quirks of each printing technology. If designers are to be able to embrace the freedoms offered by these production technologies, then they must approach a design task with a different mind-set than for conventional production method.

This project seeks to aid in this transition, by developing, from first principles, a set of design rules to guide process selection and design optimisation for cost effective Additive Manufacturing (AM). We aim to do this from the perspective of the designer and hope to both challenge the preconceptions that 'anything can be produced' using AM, whilst at the same time convincing sceptical designers that AM can be an economically viable manufacturing option when properly selected and applied. Unlike previous work which has focused on highly specific, very high value components in sectors such as aerospace and surgical implants, this research will embrace the wider field of industrial, product and engineering design as applied to complex, multi-component domestic, professional, industrial and scientific products.

Our aim is to add AM into the designer's menu of manufacturing choices and provide sufficient design guidance to enable the appropriate selection, application and design optimisation of AM parts into complex products in a cost effective manner.

Planned Impact

This research will have immediate impact as this first stage is tacking available technologies in the domains of research, industry and teaching.

As an initial project the immediate impact in AM research will involve informing future research in the cost effective application of AM in the design, manufacturing and business disciplines. This research will lead directly to new and more substantial multidisciplinary research proposals.

AM technologies have the potential to be truly transformative to design practice. However, this can only happen if there is widespread uptake by designers beyond prototyping, customised items or artisan products. Our ambition is to accelerate the uptake of AM as an economically viable production process and to provide effective guidance to designers to design components which take advantage of the capabilities of AM technologies. In so doing, we hope to provide strategic direction to future AM technology development, based on the needs of designers. We believe this will be of significance internationally.

As a pilot project, this will lay the foundations for future research proposals, to extend the outputs to include the latest developments in 3D printing technology, to address multiple materials, metals and composite structures. Future work might also address the design potential of other emerging digital production technologies. We also anticipate that the work will feed directly into the PhD activities already underway within the Design for Digital Fabrication research group at Loughborough University and the Design Management Group at Cambridge University.

Results from this study will feed into existing taught courses at Loughborough's Design School and Wolfson School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering as well as the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos at Cambridge University. The design principles and rules will be developed into appropriate teaching resources that will be made available to education and industry partners, including online copyright free documents with associated videos. CAD and/or STL files for test pieces will be shared via online resources. This will be facilitated by a dedicated project website that will continue after this and any subsequent project is completed, a Linked In profile and presence on a variety of online platforms such as GrabCAD, Thingiverse, Cubify and Shapeways.

We anticipate at least two journal papers will result from the work. In addition, to extend the reach of the project beyond academia and into industry the results will also feed into a textbook on design for AM. This book will be published by Springer who have committed to the publication guaranteeing a fast turnaround and publication as soon after project completion as possible.

Impact into industry will be facilitated by presentations at prominent and relevant industry exhibitions and trade shows including for example TCT and Develop 3D in the UK and Euromold in Germany. These activities will continue well beyond the funding period. Engagement with industry will also be facilitated by the website and online presence (e.g. Linked In) and through engagement with industry bodies and existing communication channels in AM including industry periodicals such as The Engineer, TCT and Develop 3D but also through online AM media.

Finally, after project completion, both Universities will proactively seek industry partners through KTP schemes with design consultancies and SMEs. This will enable knowledge transfer of the results but also new opportunities to develop and refine design rules and produce more case studies and reference data to support future research.
 
Description As a result of a sector wide survey of designers, extensive literature review and a series of interviews with designers, we have begun developing design rules and insights for the most frequently used Additive Manufacturing (AM) polymer processes, fused deposition modelling (FDM) and laser sintering (LS). We have established the theoretical framework for design guidance for AM and provided the structure for the data gathering, synthesis and presentation of design guidance that provides the foundations for expanding the work to include other AM processes.
We have revealed a recent explosion of academic interest in design for AM and great interest in the industrial potential of AM in government and industry. However, our data analysis reveals that there is still a lack of design experience or expertise and that design guidance for AM or readily available case studies remain extremely limited, particularly for conceptual design.
We have found that design for AM expertise is ad hoc, limited and based mostly on self-taught, experiential or trial-and-error learning. We found that to date much design guidance for AM is limited to ensuring "printability"; that is avoiding or adding features to ensure the build process does not fail. Designs following such guidance may be "printable" but have no design optimisation. More useful design guidance for AM is limited to detail design rules that are typically only applied at an individual feature level (e.g. minimum wall thickness) or is focused on only the perceived advantages of AM without due regard for their implication on the design of whole product. Our data analysis indicates that AM process characteristics should be taken into consideration from the conceptual design stage to enable subsequent design optimisation.
Many studies have focused on ultimate capabilities for specific geometric features rather than on reliable, predictable or repeatable tolerances. For example, part complexity is frequently espoused as a key advantage despite the fact that the increased complexity may be unnecessary, lead to much slower build times or create difficulties with downstream processes such as (finishing or assembly) resulting in poor manufacturing efficiency and increased cost. Many design principles enabled by AM are being applied on a component level rather than a product of assembly level, for example part consolidation is a key advantage of AM but only where issues such as cost, accuracy, strength, service life, maintenance, repair or replacement have been properly considered. We also found contradictions in design guidance from different sources.
This project helped set the foundations for research into design for additive manufacturing as a basis of a follow on bid for phase 2 of the Designing the Future Call. A bid was submitted, but the follow on project was not funded. As a result of this 18 month project, we have produced 2 extensive and detailed project reports, 2 journal papers currently in their second review and have 4 conference publications, one of which received an award as a paper in the top 10% for the conference. We have delivered keynotes at 3 industry major facing events.
Exploitation Route We are aiming to codify the insights generated in the form of guidance to designers. It is our hope that this will emerge as a result of a follow on project, which has been applied for.
We plan to use the project website as a portal for publication of design guidance, as well as presentation s at relevant industry events.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Creative Economy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL http://www.d4am.eng.cam.ac.uk/
 
Description The outputs have been used in teaching at both Cambridge and Loughborough Universities. Enquiries from industry and from designers demonstrate the need for and value of the outputs from this project. Prof Richard Bibb and Dr Patrick Pradel have engaged with two world-leading international manufacturers in knowledge exchange and further research aimed at changing professional design practice in industry. The work is currently confidential as the companies believe they will gain significant competitive advantage. We have also engaged with local SME Verivide Ltd. on knowledge exchange supported by ERDF funding. Through our knowledge exchange the company have invested in Additive Manufacturing and engaged in design for Additive Manufacture for components in their products. The collaboration is ongoing with Verivide providing case study materials for use in teaching and training. Dr James Moultrie is currently supervising 2 PhD projects aiming to understand dimensional precision in Material Extrusion Additive Manufacturing with a view to improving both design and process effectiveness.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Design for Additive Manufacturing Research Studentship
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 01/2020
 
Description Dimensional precision and robustness of Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) additive manufacturing processes
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 1971221 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 06/2021
 
Description Impact Acceleration: Analysing the market potential for Design for Additive Manufacturing executive ?education
Amount £9,716 (GBP)
Funding ID EPG96-P5 (Loughborough University Reference) 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Description When Design Never Ends: emergent product design practices in the era of Additive Manufacturing
Amount £202,352 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/V009214/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2021 
End 05/2023
 
Title Data from a survey of designers on design for additive manufacturing 
Description Data from a survey of designers on the topic of 'design for additive manufacturing'. This includes responses from 110 designers. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This data has been used as the basis for journal papers which have been submitted for review. Insights have helped in generating better understanding of design rules for additive manufacturing. 
URL https://figshare.com/s/e7b0ddf9e88d44beb7dc
 
Title Data from interviews with designers on design for additive manufacturing 
Description Interview transcripts from interviews with 11 designers on 'design for additive manufacuring'. These have been anonymised to protect the original interviewees. Interviews are fully transcribed, with time-stamps for each element. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Transcripts of interviews were used to build a conceptual framework for design for additive manufacturing. A paper submitted to the Journal of Engineering Design is currently in press. 
URL https://figshare.com/s/1531f6e262c8a859fbfd
 
Description Research partner 
Organisation Cambridge Design Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution NA
Collaborator Contribution Access for case studies and interviews.
Impact NA
Start Year 2016
 
Description Research partner 
Organisation Cambridge Design Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Input into ongoing projects on the rules for D4AM.
Collaborator Contribution Access for case studies and interviews with designers. Participation in project workshops.
Impact NA
Start Year 2016
 
Description Research partner 
Organisation Crucible Design Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Input into ongoing projects on the rules for D4AM.
Collaborator Contribution Access for case studies and interviews with designers. Participation in project workshops.
Impact NA
Start Year 2016
 
Description Research partner 
Organisation Electro Optical Systems Limited
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution : Input into ongoing projects on the rules for D4AM.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise and access for interviews and case studies. Participation in project workshops.
Impact NA
Start Year 2016
 
Description Research partner 
Organisation Malvern Instruments
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Input into ongoing projects on the rules for D4AM.
Collaborator Contribution Access for case studies and interviews with designers. Participation in project workshops.
Impact NA
Start Year 2016
 
Description Article in The Manufacturer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact An article in The Manufacturer titled "Using additive manufacturing beyond prototypes". The Manufacturer is "the premier UK industry publication providing manufacturing news, articles and insights while promoting best practice in the manufacturing industry an essential resource for every manufacturing boardroom and for senior management 158,000 reader community (as of January 2019)."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/using-additive-manufacturing-beyond-prototypes/
 
Description Contribution to a magazine article in The Engineer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Contribution to an article on design for manufacture in The Engineer, a publication aimed at practicing engineers which has wide industry circulation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.theengineer.co.uk/software-for-designing-additive-manufacturing-supports/
 
Description Design for AM Guest Lecture series in the Digital Design and Fabrication Group, Design School, Loughborough 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 18 Guest lectures on Design for Additive Manufacturing hosted by the Digital Design & Fabrication research group. In 2020-21 6 lectures have a total attendance of 120, 2 more are planned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Keynote presentation by James Moultrie, project Principal Investigator to the FormNext Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote presentation to the FormNext Show 2017 in Frankfurt, an international exhibition and conference on the next generation of manufacturing technologies. Communicated some of the outputs from the D4AM project to develop wider interest in this work. Presentation title "Design Effective Components for Additive Manufacturing". November 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.metal-am.com/formnext-2017-host-programme-leading-industry-speakers/
 
Description Keynote presentation by Richard Bibb, project CO Investigator to Fraunhofer Direct Digital Manufacturing Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote presentation to the Fraunhofer Direct Digital Manufacturing Conference 2016, a cutting edge forum for discussion on additive manufacturing. Communicated early outputs from the D4AM project to develop wider interest in this work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.ddmc-fraunhofer.de/en/keynotespeaker.html
 
Description Keynote presentation by Richard Bibb, project Co Investigator at TCT Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote presentation to the TCT 2017 in Birmingham, one of the world's leading 3D manufacturing technology events. Communicated some of the outputs from the D4AM project to develop wider interest in this work. September 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://3dprinting.co.uk/news/must-sees-2017s-tct-show/
 
Description Lecture given to 3D printing summer school by Patrick Pradel, project team member 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A lecture on design for additive manufacturing given to students attending a summer school at FH Aachen University. Attendees gained insights into design strategies and design rules for 3d printing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.fh-aachen.de/fachbereiche/maschinenbau-und-mechatronik/international/3d-printing-summer-...
 
Description Project workshop to disseminate and gain feedback on findings 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A project workshop to disseminate findings and to gain feedback from participants. Approximately 10 industrial participants, resulting in extensive and thoughtful discussions regarding the way in which information on design for additive manufacture might be communicated to a professional audience. This forum also served to enable discussion on future research proposals with an industrial audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017