Understanding the role of additive manufacturing knowledge in stimulating design innovation for novice designers

[+] Author and Article Information
Sheng Yang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal QC Canada

Thomas Page

Department of Mechanical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal QC Canada

Yaoyao Fiona Zhao

Department of Mechanical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal QC Canada

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4041928 History: Received June 29, 2018; Revised October 30, 2018


Additive manufacturing (AM) is recognized as a disruptive technology that offers significant potentials for innovative design. Prior experimental studies have revealed that novice designers provided with AM knowledge (AMK) resources can generate a higher quantity and quality of solutions in contrast with the control groups. However, these studies have adopted coarse-grain evaluation metrics that fall short in correlating AMK with radical or architectural innovation. This deficiency directly affects the way of capturing, modeling, and delivering AMK so that novel opportunities may be more efficiently and timely utilized in ideation stage. To refine the understanding of AMK's role in stimulating design innovation, an experimental study is conducted with two design projects: (a) a mixer design project, and (b) a hairdryer redesign project. The former of which aims to discover whether AMK inspiration increases the quantity and novelty of working principles (i.e. radical innovation), while the latter examines the influence of AMK on layout and feature novelty (i.e. architectural innovation). The experimental study indicates that AMK does have a positive influence on architectural innovation while the effects on radical innovation are very limited if AMK is functionally irrelevant to the design problem. Two strategies are proposed to aid the ideation process in maximizing the possibility of identifying AM potentials to facilitate radical innovation. The limitations of this study and future research plans are discussed.

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