Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Rapid Prototyping Journal, Volume 14, Issue 4
Two issues ago, my editorial referred to the design for direct digital manufacturing (DDM) competition that was organised by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The winners were announced at the RAPID Conference and Exposition in Florida last May and can be viewed through the SME’s web site. I had the privilege of being part of the “judges’ panel” for the competition and I was highly impressed by the level of entries from college and university students. In fact, the qualities of several of the entries were so high, it became very difficult to distinguish an overall winner! It seems that the whole idea of using DDM (aka rapid manufacturing) to enable new design possibilities had really caught on with the students. The designs we were most impressed with included, personalised car hood/bonnet ornaments, personalised door handles and personalised air-vents (the theme of the competition was automotive after-sales products). In the latter two cases the students had exploited the opportunity of creating geometries that would be impossible (or extremely difficult) to produce through conventional manufacturing processes. This had been used to facilitate significant component count reduction and integral functions, as well as the already mentioned personalisation aspect. As well as producing the CAD designs, the students were asked to consider DDM process selection, materials selection and cost/benefits issues. Some of the process/material combinations specified again showed that there was a deeper understanding of both the capabilities and the limitations of the technologies. The most encouraging aspect of the competition for me was the demonstration of the fact that, given appropriate education, designers and engineers are fully capable of “designing for DDM” and making effective use of its unique characteristics. This bodes well for the future but the main obstacle still seems to be the need to further raise awareness of the technologies, both in industry and within education. There is still a great deal for all of us to do in this respect.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor David Bourell for temporarily stepping into the shoes of Brent Stucker as the RPJ Regional Editor for the Americas. Brent is currently on a year’s sabbatical and is working out of Finland. Dave has served on the RPJ Editorial Advisory Board since 2001 and will be known to many readers through his activities at the University of Texas at Austin, not least in his capacity as Chair of the Organising Committee for the Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium. He has acted as Guest Editor on previous issues of the RPJ and has been one of our reviewers for many years. I wish Dave well in his new duties and I also trust that Brent will have a fruitful time on his sabbatical. He is due to return to the position of Regional Editor in July 2009.