Many years ago I was given the opportunity to design my first product. The terms rapid prototyping, 3D printing, and 3D prototyping were foreign to me. Although I felt confident in my abilities to design a complex piece of equipment, I was ill-prepared when it came to making the parts I needed.
We had a large in-house machine shop and I was assigned a machinist to build my prototypes. I would bring him a drawing of a part I’d worked on all day. He would bring me the part and I would find an error in my drawing and need him to remake it. This caused many colorful discussions, and he and I quickly formed a very heated relationship. I didn't understand machining, and he had no patience when it came to teaching me the constraints he worked under.
I’m sure most machinists are more fun to work with, but constraints are constraints. At the time, although I didn’t have a word for it, I wished I just had a printer on my desk to build my own parts and not have to deal with manufacturability.
Little did I know, about this time a visionary named Scott Crump was building exactly what I was dreaming of. Now, we produce 3D printers that cost less than $15,000, as well as FDM production machines for low-volume manufacturing. I know a desktop printer would have made my life much easier those many years ago. I wonder if my “friend” is now running an FDM production machine instead of a milling machine.
Related whitepaper: Direct Digital Manufacturing Liberates Designs
Image Source: Kheel Center
See the article here: Remember Life Before Additive Manufacturing?