Helping businesses make good 3D printing decisions

The Creative Design and Additive Manufacturing (CDAM) Lab has taken out top place for the Academic Research Team category of the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards, placing ahead of competition from the US, UK and Europe.

Based in the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering, CDAM Lab won the global award out of 10 team nominations in the research team category, including Harvard University’s Lewis Lab, Aston University’s Meso-brain project (UK), the Manufacturing Technology Center’s Digital Reconfigurable Additive Manufacturing facilities for UK aerospace, and Northeastern University’s DAPS lab in the US.

“This is a huge booster for the whole team,” says CDAM Lab team lead Professor Olaf Diegel. “It demonstrates that our research is being recognised and appreciated by the 3D printing community from around the world.”

The focus of the research that won the award for the CDAM Lab team is on helping companies adopt 3D printing (or additive manufacturing as it is also known) for the right applications and with the right design.

“If not used properly, 3D printing becomes a slow and expensive way of manufacturing,” says Diegel.

“It must add value that is high enough to overcome significant costs. And adding that value through good design practices is exactly the area we are most specialised in.”

Winning the award is certainly an indication that the work that the team is doing is on the right track, with voters being users and companies that use 3D printing.

Diegel believes that the future will see 3D printing used to automate many of the design processes behind the technologies.

“This will help users who may only know how to design for conventional manufacturing to quickly adopt the whole range of technologies and add true value to what they do.

“As this level of automation increases, we will see more and more companies adopting the technologies for real production. In fact, it could get to the point where companies who do not actively adopt and understand all advanced manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing, become disadvantaged.”