Facilitating consumer involvement in design for additive manufacturing / 3D printing products
2016-06-22T15:34:02Z (GMT) by
This research investigates the potential of the general public to actively design their own products and let consumers either manufacture by themselves or send the files to manufacturers to be produced. This approach anticipates the rapid growth of fabrication technology, particularly in Additive Manufacturing (AM)/3D printing. Recent developments in the field of AM/3D printing have led to renewed interest in how to manufacture customised products and in a way that will allow consumers to create bespoke products more easily. These technologies can enhance the understanding of non-technology compliant consumers and bring the manufacturing process closer to them. Consequently, to make AM/3D printing more accessible and easier to employ by the general public, design aspects need to be developed to be as simple to operate in the same manner as AM/3D printing technologies. These technologies will then attract consumers who want to produce Do-It-Yourself (DIY) products. This study suggests a Computer-aided Consumer Design (CaCODE) system as user- friendly design software to simplify the Computer Aided Design (CAD) stages that are required to produce 3D model data required by the AM/3D printing process. This software will be an easy-to-operate design system where consumers interact with parameters of designed forms easily instead of operating conventional CAD. In addition, this research investigates the current capabilities of AM/3D printing technologies in producing consumer products. To uncover the potential of consumer-led design and manufacturing, CaCODE has been developed for consumer evaluation, which is needed to measure the appropriateness of the tool. In addition, a range of consumer product samples as pens has been built using a range of different materials, AM/3D printing technologies and additional post-processing methods. This was undertaken to evaluate consumer acceptance of the AM/3D printed product based on products perceived quality. Forty non-designer participants, 50% male and 50% female, from 5 to 64 years old, 6-7 participants per ten-year age groups in 6 groups, were recruited. The results indicated that 75% of the participants would like to design their own product using consumer design software. The study compared how consumers interacted with the 3D model to manipulate the shape by using two methods: indirect manipulation (sliders) and direct manipulation (drag points). The majority of the participants would prefer to use the direct manipulation because they felt it was easy to use and enabled them to enjoy the design process. The study concluded that the direct manipulation was more acceptable because it enabled users to touch the digital product and manipulate it, making it more intuitive and natural. The research finds that there is a potential for consumers to design a product using user-friendly design tools. Using these findings, a consumer design tool concept was created for future development. The study indicated that 53% of participants would like to use products made by AM/3D printing although they still wanted the surface finish of injection moulded parts. However, the AM/3D printing has advantages that can fulfil the participants preference such as multi-materials from the material jetting method and it is proved that additional post-processing can increase participants acceptance level.