Once designers identify suitable products in a company portfolio , they can select a suitable design strategy to develop new and/or improve existing products. This choice determines the development process and should be made carefully.
Benefits of Additive manufacturing
- reduction of tooling,
- agile manufacturing operations,
- reduction in inventory,
- decentralized manufacturing,
- part consolidation,
- light weight and lattice structures.
Designers are best suited for this task: they have detailed knowledge of the functions and applications of the components.
Design strategies for additive manufacturing
- AM as a manufacturing technology with cost benefits at complex parts and small lot sizes,
- AM’s little restrictions on manufacturability, ie design freedom.
Manufacturing driven design strategy
- As rapid-prototyping: to rapidly test critical aspects of a new design for mass production or commercial viability for niche markets. Once a design is validated, the production can be scaled up and transferred to a mass production process like injection moulding.
- As part of a sequential systematic test to assess the potential transfer of a product portfolio towards a given AM technique such as SLM. In this scenario, it is critical to establish like for like comparison between conventionally and additively manufactured components. For instance, the material must exhibit similar or superior mechanical properties. If the material characteristics remain equal or superior, AM can only add up benefits by taking advantage of function redesign.
Function driven design strategy
The function driven design strategy neglects all conventional design rules and focuses on optimising parts’ functions according to users’ requirements and fabrication process characteristics. The benefits of this design strategy include improved performance and efficiency, reduced weight and assembly parts numbers.
 Gebhardt A. Understanding Additive Manufacturing - Rapid Prototyping - Rapid Tooling - Rapid Manufacturing. 1st ed. München: Hanser; 2011.
 Wohlers T, editor. Wohlers Report 2013 - Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing State of the Industry - Annual Worldwide Progress Report. 18th ed. Fort Collins, CO: Wohlers Associates; 2013.