But will it build? Assessing student engineering designers’ use of design for additive manufacturing considerations in design outcomes

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Additive manufacturing (AM) enables engineers to improve the functionality and performance of their designs by adding complexity at little to no additional cost. However, AM processes also exhibit certain unique limitations, such as the presence of support material. These limitations must be accounted for to ensure that designs can be manufactured feasibly and cost-effectively. Given these unique process characteristics, it is important for an AM-trained workforce to be able to incorporate both opportunistic and restrictive design for AM (DfAM) considerations into the design process. While AM/DfAM educational interventions have been discussed in the literature, few studies have objectively assessed the integration of DfAM in student engineering designers’ design outcomes. Furthermore, limited research has explored how the use of DfAM affects the students’ AM designs’ achievement of design task objectives. This research explores this gap in literature through an experimental study with 301 undergraduate students. Specifically, participants were exposed to either restrictive DfAM or dual DfAM (both opportunistic and restrictive) and then asked to participate in a design challenge. The participants’ final designs were evaluated for (1) build time and build material (2) the use of the various DfAM concepts, and (3) the features used to manifest these DfAM concepts. The results show that the use of certain DfAM considerations, such as part complexity, number of parts, support material mass, and build plate contact area (corresponding to warping tendency), correlated with the build material and build time of the AM designs—minimizing both of which were objectives of the design task. The results also show that introducing participants to opportunistic DfAM leads to the generation of designs with higher part complexity and lower build plate contact area but a greater presence of inaccessible support material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number092001
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design - Transactions of the ASME
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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