Possibilities and Pitfalls with Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Manufacturing: The Role of These Emerging Technologies in Design Education

Authors: Mathias, M.J., Reynolds, T. and Velay, X.

Publisher: Institution of Engineering Designers and Design Society


In the 80’s and 90’s industry needed design graduates with additional computer aided design (CAD) skills to introduce and operate the then emerging, and highly expensive, CAD technology. Now with the cost of CAD tumbling and industry expecting good CAD skills from design graduates, the area of Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Manufacture (RP and RM) is set to replace CAD as the area of expertise/knowledge industry require. Not only is teaching RP and RM a way of differentiating courses from other institutions, and attracting students, but more importantly, it might also be that extra knowledge that will get your graduate the job interview.

The main focus of this paper is to examine the implications of incorporating RP and RM from a curricula perspective, but will also touch on enterprise opportunities, industrial links and research. Major problems examined include managing expectations, staff training, running costs and hands-on student involvement. Bournemouth University has set up the Prototyping and Virtual Manufacturing Centre (PVMC) and this paper will illustrate how we are overcoming the pitfalls of introducing RP and RM teaching and what benefits we are seeing. The paper concludes by examining the importance of including RP and RM into the curriculum and briefly discusses the future of the RP and RM industry as whole. As with CAD in the 80’s and 90’s will the once specialist equipment of RP and RM become common place?

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Tim Reynolds