Software Frontiers: More Cost-Effective Design

Future generations of design software will address the issues currently holding back progress in open fabrication. For example, when compared to traditional injection molding, additive manufacturing is nearly always a trade-off between a savings in fixed costs and a greater unit price. Still, there are many small production-run niches where 3D printing makes economic sense, although current tools do not help designers understand these trade-offs.

Within Lab's Intelligent CAD Software: Enhance (Source: Within Labs)

Within the next decade, design software is likely to emerge that will begin to take on this challenge, allowing users to better judge the cost of a 3D-printed manufacturing run relative to traditional manufacturing methods. Already, early signals of this transition are beginning to take shape. For example, the Enhance software program from Within Technologies allows fabricators to design more cost-effective parts and to more efficiently orient their products in the printing machine so that they take advantage of the fact, for instance, that printing horizontally instead of vertically offers significant cost reductions.

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