The Rise of Design for AM Consultancies
An indicator of a new stage in the maturity of DfAM.
One of the biggest barriers to the adoption of additive manufacturing into new product development is simply one of education, not knowing the real possibilities of the process, materials or how to truly design for additive manufacturing. While there is an ever increasing focus of R&D on the processes themselves, there is much less focus on the design process.
While many universities and colleges around the world are training up the next generation of engineers on the fundamentals of DfAM, the designers and engineers currently in the field can do short courses, and online research to attempt to bring themselves up to speed. There is a lot to learn across a very broad range of materials and processes that can take a very long time to ramp up and really succeed.
Some forward thinking companies set up additive manufacturing centers of excellence to develop and transfer knowledge internally which allows for very in depth, and application specific DfAM knowledge, but this can easily lead to an investment in a particular process and reduce the breadth of design/engineering solutions to those processes. Effectively funneling the development of expertise to look for nails for their new hammer.
To help solve this problem we are seeing a new wave of dedicated DfAM consultancies emerge to guide, and speed up the adoption of additive manufacturing. These DfAM consultancies often have other aspects of their business model such as software, manufacturing and qualification services, but the core expertise of how and when to deploy additive manufacturing is of great value in realizing the business potential.
Additive hardware and materials companies along with service bureaus have long employed ‘application engineers’ on their teams to help speed up their potential and existing customers adoption of their particular technologies which has undoubtedly helped to spur the growth of the adoption of AM, but the emergence of independent, technology agnostic consultancies symbolizes a new level of maturity DfAM.
Along with exploring case studies in the adoption and application of DfAM, we will also explore the companies and the people in these independent DfAM consultancies, how they work with their customers to guide them and transfer knowledge for their continued success.
The first of these companies that we will learn more about are emerging out of Europe including Metamorphic, PUNTOZERO and Cognitive Design Systems. Exploring how and why they got started, what a typical engagement might look like, along with other services they offer.
From here we will continue to explore DfAM consultancies both independent, and those that offer services to support other business units, whether they be hardware, materials, software or contract manufacturing services.
If you are interested in discussing your business, or there is one you would like to suggest and learn more about, please contact us as we are always curious about the different ways people get down to the business end of DfAM.