Investigating the Gap Between Research and Practice in Additive Manufacturing

Bracken, Jennifer
Bentley, Zachary
Meyer, James
Miller, Erik
Jablokow, Kathryn W.
Simpson, Timothy W.
Meisel, Nicholas A.
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University of Texas at Austin

Additive manufacturing (AM) provides opportunities to design objects differently than traditional manufacturing methods allow, but only if designers understand the possibilities AM presents. In this study, we examined whether an AM workshop combined with an idea generation session could inspire engineering professionals to use AM solutions to solve current technical problems they face. All subjects were employees at an organization that will be referred to as Company X, a multinational commercial organization based in North America. During the study, we collected ideas for 24 projects generated before and after a training workshop focused on design for AM. In the workshop, we provided three hours of instruction about design for two metal-based AM processes. The participants’ ideas were assessed using four specific metrics: (1) cost, (2) time, (3) completeness of solution, and (4) quality, which was a function of feasibility, usefulness, and novelty. Using these data, we explored whether the workshop was effective in inspiring the participants to use AM methods and techniques from AM research in their concept generation and whether participants’ AM solutions showed improvement in cost, implementation time, and quality over non-AM designs generated before the workshop.