Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Design for Manufacturability in AEC?

From WikipediaDesign for Manufacturability (also sometimes known as Design for Manufacturing) - (DFM) is the general engineering art of designing products in such a way that they are easy to manufacture. The basic idea exists in almost all engineering disciplines, but of course the details differ widely depending on the manufacturing technology. This design practice not only focuses on the design aspect of a part but also on the producibility. In simple language it means relative ease to manufacture a product, part or assembly.

The design stage is very important in product design. Most of the product lifecycle costs are committed at design stage. The product design is not just based on good design but it should be able to produce by manufacturing. Often an otherwise good design is difficult or impossible to produce. Typically a design engineer will create a model or design and send it to manufacturing for review and invite feedback, this process is called as design review. If this process is not followed diligently, the product may fail at manufacturing stage.
If these DFM guidelines are not followed, it will result in iterative design, loss of manufacturing time and overall resulting in time to market. Hence many organizations have adopted concept of Design for Manufacturing.

What if we substituted the word ‘building’ for ‘product’, the word ‘designer’ for ‘design engineer’ and the word ‘construction’ for ‘manufacturing’? Could we apply DFM today in the AEC industry? Maybe the acronym becomes DFC?

Given the recent collaborative trend with Integrated Project Delivery, and the use of BIM as a vehicle for producible building designs, it certainly seems that the AEC market is moving to DFC. Moreover, with research projects like that at Loughborough University, there is a longer-term trend toward the production of 3D printed components which can be assembled to produce the design intent. Another data point – at SmartGeometry2010 conference, the theme was ‘Working Prototypes’. In one workshop last year, components were 3D printed at full scale and then assembled to form the design structure.

I would love to hear from AEC industry professionals about whether the market is ready for DFC now or in the near future.


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