The purpose of this paper is to discuss the opportunities and challenges of mass customisation (MC), together with the possibilities for enablement using the technologies of rapid manufacturing (RM).
A thorough evaluation of numerous approaches to RM of customised products is presented, with particular focus on relative advantages and limitations of each technology. To demonstrate the applicability of specific techniques, case studies from both consumer and medical applications are reported based on original research.
The paper highlights not only the opportunities for RM technologies, but also the limitations of specific processes. This approach provides guidance for practitioners in the selection of appropriate technologies for MC enablement.
The focus of this practitioner review is limited to proprietary RM materials and systems which are already commercially available, with relatively little attention given the technologies presently in development.
Whilst RM and MC have already received much attention in the literature, comparatively little consideration has been given to the unification of both concepts. This paper has particular emphasis on this unification with respect to the selection of appropriate technologies, and presents an appraisal of existing applications making use of RM. Through this approach, practitioners gain information in the selection of appropriate technologies for MC.
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