Digital Manufacturing is probably a new term for many. In Brian Underdahl’s book, Proto Labs Special Edition Digital Manufacturing for Dummies, the author combines CNC machining, injection molding and 3D printing into this overall umbrella term.
Underdahl says “Digital Manufacturing is technology enabled manufacturing that uses computing power to” . . . . make various manufacturing processes more efficient. Before businesses took much of U.S. manufacturing overseas during the middle to late 1980s, the use of computing power to make manufacturing more efficient was commonplace. It began soon after the introduction of the programmable controller in 1968. Now that many companies are bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., companies are developing new terms to describe the ongoing evolution of using computers to improve manufacturing efficiency.
Recently graduated engineers will appreciate the overview of the steps every product goes through from initial design through the various prototyping stages and options.
All design engineers will gain a better understanding of the basics of subtractive manufacturing (CNC and injection molding), additive manufacturing (going through all the major additive technologies), and materials for all of these options. Plus, in the book’s 60 pages, there are plenty of tips on choosing the process and material that is right for your project.
The section on materials is very good. While no one can go into depth about a material’s mechanical performance in a few pages, it does give you nice guidance on the range of plastics and metals available for these manufacturing options.
The final chapter gives you tips on working with a prototyping or manufacturing partner, especially the Proto Labs quick-turn manufacturing process.
A quick and easy read, this book gives you a solid introduction to the various ways you can prototype and make your design. To request a free copy, click here.