Research in additive manufacturing (AM) has increased the use of AM in many industries, resulting in a commensurate need for a workforce skilled in AM. In order to meet this need, educational institutions have undertaken different initiatives to integrate design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) into the engineering curriculum. However, limited research has explored the impact of these educational interventions in bringing about changes in the technical goodness of students' design outcomes, particularly through the integration of DfAM concepts in an engineering classroom environment. This study explores this gap using an experimental study with 193 participants recruited from a junior-level course on mechanical engineering design. The participants were split into three educational intervention groups: (1) no DfAM, (2) restrictive DfAM, and (3) restrictive and opportunistic (dual) DfAM. The effects of the educational intervention on the participants' use of DfAM were measured through changes in (1) participants' DfAM self-efficacy, (2) technical goodness of their AM design outcomes, and (3) participants' use of DfAM-related concepts when describing and evaluating their AM designs. The results showed that while all three educational interventions result in similar changes in the participants' opportunistic DfAM self-efficacy, participants who receive only restrictive DfAM inputs show the greatest increase in their restrictive DfAM self-efficacy. Further, we see that despite these differences, all three groups show a similar decrease in the technical goodness of their AM designs, after attending the lectures. A content analysis of the participants' design descriptions and evaluations revealed a simplification of their design geometries, which provides a possible explanation for the decrease in their technical goodness, despite the encouragement to utilize the design freedom of AM to improve functionality or optimize the weight of the structure. These results emphasize the need for more in-depth DfAM education to encourage the use of both opportunistic and restrictive DfAM during student design challenges. The results also highlight the possible influence of how the design problem is stated on the use of DfAM in solving it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number042001
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 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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