For many companies, the design process begins with the previous version of the product and proceeds with a series of step-by-step improvements. This approach may make sense when you are limited by conventional manufacturing methods such as injection molding and CNC machining. With direct digital manufacturing, on the other hand, the sky is the limit. So grab a pencil and a clean sheet of paper and let your imagination run free. Did you previously build a housing from four components so you could enclose a void in the middle? Instead, use additive manufacturing to produce the housing as a single component with a void. Have you been keeping wall thickness uniform in order to avoid violating molding process guidelines? Additive manufacturing doesn't care how thick the walls are. Make them the minimum thickness that will provide the mechanical properties you need, and youe will save money and materials.
"How to Design Your Part for Direct Digital Manufacturing" is a Stratasys white paper that explains how to take full advantage of the benefits of additive manufacturing during the design process. Here’s the third of four excerpts from the paper along with a link to the full paper:
Don't let past practices, old traditions or previous decisions dictate design options and process selections. Question everything. For example, a part previously made of sheet metal may be an ideal candidate for plastic because the rationale for the original decision may no longer hold true. Sheet metal may have been selected as a practical, but not preferred, manufacturing process because of low production volumes and high cost for injection molds. With DDM, a sheet metal enclosure can be converted to a sophisticated, stylized plastic part since there is no tooling to amortize over a small production run.
View or download the complete How to Design Your Part for Direct Digital Manufacturing white paper.