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Rethink assembly design
Purpose: Rapid manufacturing processes provide designers, mechanical and process engineers with a lot of chances and opportunities. It is necessary to show them, how their work and their processes will change due to these new technologies.
Design/methodology/approach: Rapid manufacturing offers the chance to use the additive manufacturing processes to produce not just prototypes but advanced functional parts in small and medium quantities that can utilise a lot of design advantages that are provided by the process. We consult, as a German applied research institute, independent companies, helping them to introduce new product development and manufacturing processes, rethink the design of their products and to be aware of the advantages of upcoming manufacturing technologies.
Findings: Finds that a lot of products of today and especially of tomorrow could be produced by the new rapid manufacturing processes today and at competitive costs, if their design was adaptedcarefully using the new possibilities. New categories of products will come up too.
Research limitations/implications: The acceptance of rapid manufacturing as a new production technology is still limited by the available manufacturing systems. The number of released materials is still small and the accuracy of the parts and the building speed is still not exactly rapid. The mindset of the decision makers and of the R&D departments has to be radically changed. There is a lot of development going on, so the situation will change.
Originality/value: Aspects of a visionary scenario for future productions and products are shown and some examples are demonstrated based on a customised robot gripper.