Design for Purpose

By on December 24th, 2014 in Ideas, learning

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People who are new to personal 3D printing sometimes learn the hard way that you must design for purpose. 

With the vast number of personal 3D printers showing up in homes around the world these days, some of their operators have begun designing 3D models for printing. They may have obtained inexpensive 3D design software and attempted simple designs suitable for home 3D printing. 

But they’ll quickly learn that designing functional objects is a skill they may not have. You may not require an engineering degree, but the design for any print used mechanically should take into consideration its intended usage. 

Take, for example, the coin bowl at top. The simple bowl was easily designed and 3D printed. But when filled with coins and lifted, the bottom fell out due to the weight of the coins. It was not sufficiently strong for the intended purpose. 

It’s not enough to learn how to use, say, Blender, SketchUp or 123D Design. But being proficient in the buttons and sliders of a 3D design tool is not sufficient. You must also include a little engineering acumen. 

But where do you learn such things? Do you have to enroll in an engineering program? For the vast majority of personal 3D printer operators, that would be overkill. We think there is a market opportunity for someone to provide training for 3D printer operators in basic engineering principles suited specifically for 3D printing. We haven’t found a good source for this yet, but if you have one, please let us know. 

Meanwhile, try to design for purpose; the good news is if it doesn’t work, you can always try again.

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!