Additive Manufacturing (AM, also known as 3D printing) technologies are nowadays continuously evolving in terms of processable materials, resolution, printing volume and quality. This evolution is extending design boundaries; it is also pushing the development of cutting-edge and high-added value ideas in a wide range of fields, from biomedical to architecture, from aerospace to product design and computer graphics. Designers have now the possibility to explore and develop tailored and advanced solutions by exploiting the potentialities of these technologies at the design level. Functional integration, multi-material printing, local and multi-scale tuning of properties, organic shapes are only a few of the design opportunities nowadays available. However, the proper exploitation of such a wide range of opportunities is calling for a new mindset which is strongly multidisciplinary and capable of mastering interlinked requirements.
The effectiveness of a 3D-printed solution relies on the ability to successfully reach the optimum among materials properties, digital modelling and the control of the manufacturing process. The building of in-depth and multidisciplinary knowledge on all these aspects is fundamental but not sufficient. It is only through the proper development and implementation of design methods, tools and processes that ideas can be transformed into innovative 3D-printed products.
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) means creating the appropriate design mindset for exploiting the maximum potentialities of AM technologies. This exploitation should occur in every phase of the process, from the idea generation to the post-processing step. Computational and algorithm-based design strategies are essential to the creation of such a mindset; they help designers to master the potential of AM technologies both at the design and fabrication level. Successful implementation of these strategies will stimulate the exploration of the design space, model complex and multidisciplinary phenomena, and to enable the advanced control of the fabrication process.