SUITABILITY STUDY OF DESKTOP 3D PRINTING FOR CONCEPT DESIGN PROJECTS IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION
Rapid Prototyping technologies have demonstrated the capacity to help and improve the product concept design and development process. However, the cost of these technologies has been excessive to be integrated into design engineering educational programmes. This limitation has been reduced due to the existence of a new low cost 3D printer market, opening the possibility to integrate the prototyping culture into educational laboratories, thus the materialization and physical evaluation of design ideas.
However, in the field of product design not only functional but aesthetic aspects has to be taken into account. In this sense low cost technologies not yet offer professional quality thus the evaluation of design concepts could be affected. Therefore the main objective of this study presented is to evaluate the suitability of desktop 3D printing technologies for design concept evaluation, as well as the two most common post-processing techniques through a group of 22 students of the Degree of Product Design Engineering.
The results show a positive assessment of the technology but the need for a post-processing of the parts is recognized. This factor highlights the necessity to improve this aspect in low cost 3D printer systems.