Combining Additive Manufacturing with Computer Aided Consumer Design
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This paper reports an investigation into the potential for consumers designing and manufacturing their own products using a combination of “Computer Aided Consumer Design” (CaCODE) and Additive Manufacturing (AM). Recent developments in the field of AM (cheaper machines and new materials) have led to renewed interest in the manufacture of customised products and, more specifically, allowing consumers to create their own bespoke products. However, a persistent weak link in this paradigm is the inability of most consumers to create 3D models as an input for AM. Operating a conventional CAD system requires a lengthy period of specialist training and is therefore not viable in this context. Consequently, easy-to-use 3D design tools are needed to make AM more accessible to consumers. This research study investigated the suitability of such a system for enabling consumers to design their own pens for manufacture using AM. The investigation also explored the consumer acceptance of current AM capabilities when used for the production of consumer products. The results showed that careful attention must be paid to the specific needs of consumers, both in terms of their product preferences and their ability to use software. These will be used to guide the design of future CaCODE systems.