Investigation of design for additive manufacturing in professional design practice
© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies are widely adopted in design practice for prototyping. However, the extent to which practitioners are knowledgeable and experienced in designing components for series production using AM remains poorly understood. This study presents the results of an online survey aimed at uncovering this emerging design activity, with additional evidence provided by semi-structured interviews with 18 designers. One hundred ten practising designers responded. The majority of the respondents remain sceptical about the potential for AM as a process for series production, citing cost and technical capabilities as key barriers. Only 23 reported experience in designing components for series production using AM, with the majority of these designing parts to be produced from plastic. The survey revealed that these designers have developed their own ‘design rules’ based primarily on personal experience. These rules, however, tended to focus on ensuring ‘printability’ and did not provide support for taking advantage of the unique capabilities of AM processes. The designers tended to treat AM processes as a uniform set of production processes, and so the design rules they used were generic and not directed to the capabilities of specific AM processes.