With 3D printing coming into focus and manufacturing companies embracing the technology there will also be a shift in thinking in how to shape load bearing mechanical structures.
Suppose that you are an engineer and your task is to design an Engine Block from scratch for a car. As an engineer you know that the engine block will have to endure quite large forces that the block will have to endure. With conventional manufacturing method you’ll be oversizing a lot of areas as you will be unable to shape them to the ideal load bearing shape. Just because the conventional tools are inadequate to do so. This will result in a block that is heavier that it needs to be from a load bearing point of view. You will end up with a conventional block like the following picture.
However, if you have manufacturing methods like 3D printing at your disposal you can make sure there is just enough material in the places where you need it and leave it out in areas where you don’t. You will have the 3D manufacturing tools that allow you to do so. You will end up with a very light but equally strong block. Savings on fuel and material are the main advantages. Almost no waste. It could look something like the following picture.
A company that is very smartly trying to cash in on this change in thinking is the company called Within. Website here.
They are selling software that allows you to easily place lattice structures in a volume. Something that otherwise might be very hard to do in conventional CAD software.
In future you will see these kind of businesses popping up more and more. Companies that cash in on the fact that we will be thinking differently about how to create shapes. More in organic forms rather than straight lines and blocks.
I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with!