CAREER: Consideration of Manufacturability in Early Stage Design for Additive Manufacturing

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant will contribute to the advancement of national prosperity and economic welfare by studying how the design opportunities and manufacturing restrictions of additive manufacturing (AM) processes should be integrated in the early stages of engineering design practice. The global AM market is expected to reach over $40 billion by the end of 2025 and has been identified as an important facet of the United States' future global manufacturing competitiveness. While the increase in geometric complexity afforded by AM opens new opportunities for design innovations, designers' traditional assumptions of manufacturability may unintentionally limit them from taking full advantage of these opportunities. At the same time, design engineers will have to consider new restrictions that AM technology imparts on designs to avoid potential build failure. This CAREER project will help to understand how best to balance these tradeoffs so as to be able to more quickly arrive at viable, creative, and manufacturable designs for AM and to reduce product revision in later design stages. The accompanying educational plan will address the need for an innovative, technically grounded workforce capable of breaking down traditional barriers between the realms of design and manufacturing. This will be achieved through the deployment of three novel educational platforms meant to engage students from across academic levels in hands-on learning with core design concepts for AM.

The objectives of this CAREER research is to gain a fundamental understanding of how engineers' early-stage designs reflect traditional manufacturing limitations and to understand how the presence of such limitations in an engineer's design practice can be supplanted through systematic integration of both opportunistic and restrictive guidelines. Specific research tasks will address (1) understanding how prevalent traditionally manufacturable features are in early-stage designs and how compatible these features are with DfAM, (2) understanding how and when DfAM guidelines should be conveyed to engineers in early-stage design to successfully supplant the use of traditionally manufacturable features, and (3) understanding how systematic integration of DfAM guidelines in early-stage design affects iteration and product quality for both original design and redesign cases. These objectives will be addressed through design studies with both engineering students and practicing engineers. The result will be a robust, validated approach to incorporate AM design concepts in early-stage design practice so designers can quickly converge to manufacturable designs. This research is expected to reveal crucial interaction effects between the seemingly contradictory opportunistic and restrictive sides of DfAM, which might otherwise remain hidden when studying each in isolation.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date6/1/215/31/26


  • National Science Foundation: $556,586.00


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