An interesting communication came my way from Crucible just recently, announcing a set of guidelines that the organization has developed for Designing for 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.
The announcement gets straight to the point, with an interesting truth: “The perception that these [additive] processes are free from any production constraints remains largely unchallenged. The reality is that — if cost, time or waste matter to you — additive manufacturing / 3D printing processes DO have constraints.”
Because 3D printing is widely (and correctly) associated with new design freedoms in terms of complexity and geometries, it is often perceived as having no constraints at all. This is a mistake that Crucible is hoping to eliminate for users, particularly users of DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering).
Crucible has contributed to the ‘SAVING’ project and as a result, has produced a set of guidelines aimed at achieving best practice with the process. “Most of the guidelines are aimed at making designers aware of the basic facts regarding design with DMLS, like rule number 1 — any downward facing horizontal surface will require support structures to be built and then removed, wasting time and money. The important point to note is that these are not limitations, provided you work with them — just as draft angles are not necessarily a limitation of injection moulding.”
This is an important set of guidelines in my opinion – which will hopefully go someway to supporting new and existing users of additive technology and help them avoid disillusionment when, as can happen, the reality does not always live up to the hype they have heard. The reality is that these processes are capable of great things, but as with anything worthwhile – it takes understanding and effort.
I salute Crucible for this announcement. Nice one!