Workshop Design for Additive Manufacturing unites Theory and Practice

  Lecturer speaking to students Copyright: © Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries

On April 26 and 27, the research area TIME of RWTH University hosted a design workshop on Additive Manufacturing. The workshop was conducted by notable guest speaker Professor Timothy Simpson of Pennsylvania State University. The American guest speaker provided insight into concepts and fundamental content to the particpants under the title “Designing for Additive Manufacturing. A Metal-Based Additive Manufacturing Short Course“ over a two day period, especially putting emphasis on competences in handling metal-based additive processes and addressing the challenges this innovative technology entails.

Professor Simpson, one of the leading American experts on 3D-printing, holds Penn State’s Paul Morrow professorship in Engineering Design and Manufacturing and has been leading different workshops on additive manufacturing for five years. On his first stay in Germany, he visits as a guest on behalf of the Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology.

Professor Simpson used the opportunity to approach the field of AM from the designer’s perspective with the 25 participants to encourage future expertise amongst the attendees. Within the workshop, participants from diverse fields of study gathered to work as teams, people coming from a manufacturing environment cooperating with students of psychology and innovation management. The interdisciplinary group made up of diverse backgrounds was introduced to the design process in CAD and different perspectives in the field of addditive manufacturing by Professor Simpson over the course of the workshop.

On the first day, following the introduction and welcome conducted in the morning, the course focused on the design process from the first to the last step. Beginning with the initial idea and the modelling process in CAD, the course talked about the steps involved in process planning, the actual manufacturing process and the machines up until post processing. Within each step, Professor Simpson discussed the special challenges awaiting the designer over the course of the process. As Simpson highlighted, important key decisions which will influence the final product to a wide extend are to be made in each stage and must therefore be analyzed and planned carefully to achieve the production of an optimal end product, preferably on the first try to economize materials. Over the course of the afternoon, process planning revealed itself as a central challenge of 3D-printing. Construction times, prerequisites for support structures, thermal behavior, internal stress buildup and material characteristics were identified as critical parameters and illustrated through examples to provide the participants with a holistic overview over the challenges of additive manufacturing.

  Model Boat Copyright: © Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries

As a practical alternation to the theoretical part of the workshop, the course continued with a design challenge by late afternoon, making the participants take on the role of the designer themselves. The practical design challenge introduced the teams to designing their own models in CAD and demanded creativity and concentration from the designers. Professor Simpson postulated the challenge’s objective by loading a small model boat made of plastic with coins, making it sink in a container filled with water. The objective of creating their own model boat with a higher load capacity consequently united theory and practice and challenged the teams to use their new knowledge on designing effectively. The only condition: the boat must be printable with the help of the provided 3D printer in less than two hours. The teams constructed their models with the help of tinkercad in full concentration over a one hour period, Professor Simpson giving advice and providing assistance when neccessary. The testing of the teams‘ boats with the help of coins and water was undertaken on the second day of the workshop.

  Professor Simspon assists students Copyright: © Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries

The second day especially concentrated on a future-oriented perspective. The teams presented new business models resulting from the possibilities of AM to each other, mentioning designers, medical engineering and service providers amongst others. The course ended with an outlook on the future direction of additive manufacturing and the summary that there is still much to be done, explored and discovered in the field of AM.

Professor Simpson expressed his contentment about the course and commented that the diversity of the group especially contributed to making the workshop a valuable experience for everyone involved.

A short interview with Professor Simpson about his stay in Germany, the Workshop Designing for Additive Manufacturing and the German industry can be found here.