5 Design implications
The realisation of a design is limited by the ability to create or construct that design. For a moment, think about the design process and how AM can realise the design more quickly and where it would not otherwise have been possible.
The flexibility of AM means more complex designs, and designs that once were considered impossible or impractical, can be realised. Additionally, because of the freedom from tooling, the start-up costs for a new design can be minimal.
For example, consider the production of children’s toys, action figures for instance. Most children’s action figures are made by injection moulding, involving considerable investment in tooling for each toy. A decision needs to be made by a manufacturer about the profitability of investing in a new mould design, however, because there is a chance that children will not want the planned toy and sales will be low.
AM can be used to produce small product runs for each toy, to create one-off toys and highly collectable special editions. This kind of freedom goes against most manufacturing norms, and to be fully embraced, an entire shift in the way design and manufacturing interface needs to happen.