AM before pm – Our Treatise on Additive Manufacturing



Additive Manufacturing (AM) is quickly becoming the tour-de-force in our industrial progression. Using 3D printing and other state of the art technologies, we are not only enabling smart manufacturing, but also providing for customized products at scale. Utilizing it and other technologies like AI/ML, Blockchain, IoT, and AR/VR and other Mixed and Hybrid reality techniques, we are harmonizing the bind between the different silos of the product lifecycle – business processes, innovation, production, and marketing and sell.

This article summarizes our experiences starting with 3D printing and expanding on to other aspects of Adaptive Engineering leading up to Additive and Smart Manufacturing to build the basis for Design for Manufacturability (DFM), Design for Assembly (DFA) and their combination DFMA (Design for Manufacturing and Assembly) techniques.

This is a supplement to showcase artifacts for Imagine, Design, and Create using MANTHANTMNumorpho Cybernetic Systems (NUMO) advent into building a design philosophy for innovation in Industry and Services 5.0 that accounts for intense ideation, smart engineering and human-centricity as key core concepts in building solutions, products, and services of the future. This is appropriate as we progress thru our industrial revolutions from Industry 4.0 (smart manufacturing) to Industry and Services 5.0 (human-centric solutions).


AM before pm (the day ends) is an introduction to the world of new engineering called hardtech utilizing CAD, Simulations and 3D printing in conjunction with other technologies for making. The core of the article is how making products is morphing to a “born philosophy” vs a build culture. In this new world customers, creators, products, and materials are conjoint in the creation of the solution.

In a themed curriculum, Drexel University partnered with MxD, the design for manufacturing institute to instill tenets of Additive Manufacturing via a DoD mandate to empower the workforce in smart manufacturing. Called D3-AMP, the Drexel Digital Design & Advanced Manufacturing Program is composed of three interconnected modules to accommodate participants with varying levels of experience:

  • Module 1 – a level setting online and asynchronous pre-program
  • Module 2 – an on-site or synchronous learning residency at the MxD
  • Module 3 – The D3-AMP concludes with a final project where participants work on their own products (e g company related), while being offered individualized and project specific consultation in a one-to-one basis.

The overall objective of the D3-AMP program is to take the participant on a tailorable/comprehensive digital design and continuing education curriculum which includes all stages from conceptualization to final product manufacturing which is devised to be inclusive of both collaborative and personalized experiences.

I have appropriately divided the sections in this article into Morning, Afternoon and Evening culminating in a treatise on customization – what I call Custom Manufactory. Subsequent sections are for the phases after the product signoff in terms of maintenance, service, support, and eventual sunset, and how it even could be the basis for our exploration into space.

The goal of this post is to briefly discuss the history of making and our experiences working with 3D printing on everything from simple single parts to complex designs in a wide range of materials and composites. We will briefly touch but not detail the theory of Digital Engineering (CAD, Parametric Modeling, Generative Design and Engineering Simulations) for material properties, their usage, and mechanical and electronic component design. These topics will be summarized in future articles.


More than a century ago, Henry Ford installed the first simple moving assembly line in a Model T plant to herald what we now call Industry 2.0, and the world of automobile manufacturing was forever transformed. Just as the assembly line opened new doors for a then-nascent industry then, the rise of additive manufacturing creates new opportunities at every phase of the automotive manufacturing life cycle – from functional prototyping to mid- and high-volume production to aftermarket and spare parts today. And many of those opportunities relate to production speed and part complexity – or a combination of the two.

Traditional manufacturing methods are built and are subtractive in nature. They are based on forming a desired shape for a block or by defining casts/dies for specific geometries. They cannot account for complex shapes and internal geometries. Economics dictate that the cost of changing a product in what is called subtractive processes is 10 times more than the cost of designing it.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) on the other hand can account for complexities in geometries because of its ability to create geometries and designs that cannot be created using conventional subtractive manufacturing methods. It has emerged as a powerful tool in recent years and is opening up entire new industries. With AM, designers can create new types of components that were never possible before. A recent survey of 1,900 3D companies found that 52% are using 3D printing to manufacture products, not just prototypes, according to Sculpteo, a 3D-printing subsidiary of German chemical giant BASF. Top uses for 3D printing are making complex shapes and “mass customization,” the ability to manufacture products that are digitally fine-tuned for individuals.

However, the emergence of this new technology has imposed new challenges on the engineer, particularly with regard to the behavior of the materials used in manufacturing additively manufactured parts where both the part and the material are composed simultaneously.

The biggest challenges for additive manufacturing are:

  • consistency from one manufacturing run to another,
  • the amount of post-processing required before printed items can be used, and
  • the cost of the raw materials the printers use,

the survey found. 3D printers won new attention during the coronavirus pandemic, when companies and households found them useful to produce personal protective equipment like face shields.

A brief review of our 3D printing experiences includes the development of the concept for an adaptive manufacturing system that can be used to manufacture new designs. This adaptive manufacturing system could be used to make unique and customized designs as needed. We will call this Adaptive Engineering for custom manufactory.


We live in a world that somebody imagined, designed, and created. Humans’ remarkable ability to form mental patterns about how the world might be is truly one of our species’ most astonishing abilities.

  • Why does design matter?
  • How does design inspire?
  • How do we make design?
  • How does technology change design?
  • How do we design design?
  • Where will design take us next?

We normally examine design in artificially small silos called invention or design or artistic imagination. But they are inextricably connected – Imagine, Design, Create from Autodesk.

The challenges of designing innovative products are to balance power, speed, weight, accuracy, strength, and cost.  AM reduces product development lead times and provides geometric freedom, part consolidation, and design individuality. AM allows you to build physical objects in the same exact way as computers build programs: You can custom design almost anything with an easy to use programming language, and that design is then printed out using innovative new systems. We are harnessing the power of exponential technologies to provide the tools needed for this exciting new era in software driven hardware manufacturing. By building products layer by layer, it’s possible to construct designs that would be impossible with conventional casting, molding, extrusion, or machining. Although 3D printing got its commercial start creating prototypes, the technique is increasingly being used for production.


Effective collaboration between Engineering and Manufacturing is a critical step to remaining competitive in the era of Industry 4.0 and IoT, and its Human/Customer Centric evolution to Industry and Services 5.0. At its simplest, the manufacturing process involves fabricating parts, assembling final products, performing inspection and quality testing. The Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and Design for Assembly (DFA) techniques are two different classifications. DFM techniques are focused on individual parts and components with a goal of reducing or eliminating expensive, complex or unnecessary features which would make them difficult to manufacture. DFA techniques focus on reduction and standardization of parts, sub-assemblies, and assemblies.

Design for Manufacturability (DFM) – Selecting the right additive manufacturing machine is vital to achieving the desired quality and lead time. However, the part is only as good as the design. A typical design process involves defining the design space, fixing the boundary conditions, applying loads, defining manufacturing constraints, running topology optimization, and analyzing the optimized design to match the desired performance. AM involves numerous and complex variables to be monitored and controlled in the process to achieve an acceptable level of accuracy in printing. Trial and error methods for finding the correct lattice positions or design of appropriate support structures are essential to developing the right solution. Also appropriate post-processing to remove supports, clean-up of the product and other detailing is also needed to achieve good results.

Design for Assembly (DFA) – A scalable, comprehensive BOM strategy enabled by the right PLM system is essential since the eventual solution would be an assemblage of multiple AM products.

Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA) – DFMA is a break from tradition. With DFMA, the Design and Manufacturing Engineers work together as a team in developing the product’s manufacturing and assembly methods simultaneously with the design. Conventionally, the design engineer designs the product then hands the drawings to manufacturing who then determine the manufacturing and assembly processes. Many engineers automatically separate the two into DFM and DFA since they have been defined separately for several years. For effective application of DFMA the two activities must work in unison to gain the greatest benefit.

Modular Product Design – Modular design is becoming more prevalent in many industries. It has various advantages for the manufacturer, the dealer, and the customers. Some of the advantages to modular design are listed below:

  • Modules help minimize cost by reducing the number of different parts within a family of products
  • Modules may result in shorter learning curves when new employees require training on the assembly of the products
  • In some cases, it allows the manufacturer to balance production throughout the year based on projected seasonal sales
  • In addition, the dealer can stock most sold items for fast delivery to customer. Customized combinations of the modules can be delivered to the site and installed quickly.
  • Modules allow for greater outsourcing of parts and assembly modules, freeing-up manufacturing capacity and increasing the number of products delivered on time
  • Modules provide for easy and quick installation of products at the site saving labor and time
  • Modules improve servicing and maintenance of products as well as reduces the number of service parts that need to be stocked at the dealer
  • Modular assemblies can also be improved with minimal effect on the rest of the product


The intention of customization is to produce the part to the specifications set by the customer and provided by the design and engineering team. Custom Manufactory is the process of designing, engineering, and producing goods based on a customer’s unique specifications, including build to order (BTO) parts, one-offs, short production runs, as well mass customization. The product will thus be produced and delivered faster than traditional manufacturing and will be able to overcome many of the challenges of field repair. The part will be fully qualified and ready to use upon delivery.

One of the most promising trends is mass customization, which combines the flexibility of custom-made products with the low unit costs achieved in mass production. Customized products can offer tangible benefits and create higher value perception for customers while providing higher margins than mass production for the manufacturers. By reducing the time that it takes a product to get from concept to the customer, additive manufacturing will also enable companies to become more agile in manufacturing and respond faster to trends and changes in customer needs.

With Additive Manufacturing, a company can have a near-zero inventory because it can print parts when a customer orders a product. This lowers the cost of inventory and the risk of carrying a large inventory in a warehouse or in a production facility. For fast-paced industries such as aerospace, this will enable a much faster design-to-production cycle.


With the advent of Cyber-Physical Systems, IoT and Predictive analytics, it is important to understand how Additive Manufacturing can facilitate the proper functioning of equipment in a shop floor. There is currently no widely adopted standardized process for rapidly and repeatedly deploying predictive maintenance solutions in manufacturing.

Modern maintenance, reliability, and operations teams need technology that works the way they work—in the field. However, most software systems are still desktop-based, even though their end users never sit in front of a desk. This makes it difficult for teams to perform their best work because they’re tied to software that’s disjointed, outdated, and hard to use. Asset Operations Management threads together an organization’s technician services, passive and active data, and unique operational blueprint to make it easier and faster for every employee to get what they need to do their jobs successfully.

Utilizing data driven methods, statistical process control (SPC) and predictive analytics we have created a blueprint for enabling preventative maintenance using our Digital Twine Reference architecture that would utilize engineering toolsets and MES systems to quickly troubleshoot and diagnose faults and runaway conditions so that appropriate actions can be taken to remedy situations. This would enable proactive management of shop floors, and assembly lines to reduce downtime and churn to optimize mid-stream manufacturing processes. The figure below depicts Use Case 15 for Predictive Maintenance for Manufacturing:


Use of metal AM in aerospace is poised to grow throughout the coming decades. The design freedom and opportunities for lighter, stronger, and more fuel-efficient components easily offset the obstacles. Furthermore, 3D-part printing will become more efficient and also be enabled in space where the logistics of transport could be surmounted by printing parts on site rather than wait for the next payload to arrive.

Qualifying parts for aerospace take special significance when parts are 3D-printed. Metals and polymers used to make 3D-printed components are essentially forged on the fly, so there may be questions about material integrity that must be answered comprehensively and scientifically. Especially with flight-critical parts, the technology used to accomplish this task is computed tomography, better known as CT scanning.

A decades-old technology, CT scanning is a viable way to peer into and through a workpiece to uncover any hidden internal flaws. CT scanning also allows additive manufacturing (AM) users to verify that their equipment is functioning properly and that their processes are sound and repeatable – able to produce the same metallurgical and mechanical characteristics on the parts 3D printed today and a year from now.

Metal printing is favored by many engineers tasked with making space-based components such as metal parts for rockets. Because rocket engines need to be able to withstand very high temperatures, an Inconel copper super-alloy powder is often chosen. Inconel is a distinctive class of super-alloys that are recognized for their corrosion and oxidation resistance.

Instead of incorporating plastic into the metal filament, printing for space-based applications is better suited to Direct Metal Laser Sintering. To produce dense rocket parts, loose metal powder is laid in layers. Between each layer being placed, a laser is pointed onto the metal powder. The laser traces the precise shape dictated by the digital file, melting and binding the metal in the process. This is repeated for each layer, until the solid metal shape is submerged in the excess metal powder.

Soon, metal 3D printing could take place in space to create tools, instead of sending equipment by rocket. This would lower the time taken to receive replacement parts for repairs as well as the cost of flying them from Earth to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA is currently funding research into metal 3D printing in low gravity. Depending on the success of space-based manufacturing, the future could include printing a base on the moon. The James Web Space Telescope (JWST) and Project Artemis to enable occupation on moon and Mars are just two recent examples that have and will utilize materializing space. In a subsequent article titled Tripping the Light Fantastic, we will use the JWST as the backdrop to detail our methodology to undertake such complex endeavors and how a themed articulation is essential for innovation, coordination, collaboration, and execution.


The last 5 years have been an exciting time for Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM). Although LSAM is a newly emerging niche area for Additive Manufacturing (AM), the use cases have huge potential. From houses on Mars to tooling, ship hulls and aerospace parts, it is exciting to see what is next for LSAM.

LSAM typically refers to 3D printers with build volumes larger than the 15-20 cm cubed dimensions commonly found in desktop 3D printers. Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) can create parts of up to 6 x 2.4 x 2 m. The most common LSAM technology is material extrusion/deposition similar to Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) used in desktop polymer 3D printers.

The aerospace and construction industries are two industries currently benefiting the most from LSAM. In 2021 the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center was awarded $2.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to develop a rapid, low-cost AM solution for fabricating large, segmented wind blade molds.

In 2021 ASTRO America was selected to manage a new U.S. Army initiative to develop and deliver the largest metal additive manufacturing 3D printer capable of printing a seamless hull in what is known as the Jointless Hull project. MetalTech news describes the advantages of a jointless hull, “Hulls built as a single unit, called monolithic hulls, for combat vehicles have well-established advantages in survivability and weight savings – yet traditional manufacturing processes are not cost-effective or adaptable to full production of these kinds of plating.”

As LSAM technology develops and matures we see additively manufactured construction having huge potential to construct dwelling in new, fast and affordable ways. ICON, a company that develops advanced construction technologies using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, has taken the lead in additively manufactured housing. They partnered with the DoD to build 5700 square feet of training barracks and have many other AM construction projects. One of the most exciting LSAM projects is ICON’s future space exploration habitats. In 2021 the first Simulated Mars Surface Habitat for NASA was printed. These habitats have the potential to be 3D printed on Mars with additive construction technology to eliminate the need to launch large quantities of building materials on multiple flights, which is cost prohibitive.

Most LSAM machines use G-code commands or a variation of G-code to instruct the 3D printers on how to print a part in the same way as desktop 3D printers. These large-scale machines are subject to the same cybersecurity threats as smaller 3D printers. It might seem far-fetched to think about cybersecurity issues with 3D printers constructing habitats on Mars but it is important to consider these implications now so that we can be prepared for the future. It is important to continuously monitor printing processes so that we can maintain part quality, trust in the printed product and the printing technology. In DoD/secure applications we especially need to have visibility into the process to know that what we want to print is what we have printed and no cyber sabotage has taken place. BISON provides visibility into the printing process, giving users information about their prints based on G-code diff and adding valuable information to the verification and quality assurance process.


We successfully completed the program for Advanced Manufacturing Experience (AMx cohort 3) conducted by 3Degrees at the Richard Daley Advanced Manufacturing Center, part of the City Colleges of Chicago. The course involved hands on training on #3dprinting fundamentals, #additivemanufacturing technology, the utilization of a multitude of machines in the Maker room and outside.

We also had themed field visits and webinars with:

  • Meltio (Laser Metal Deposition – LMD), Yashwanth Bandari. Laser metal deposition (LMD) is an additive manufacturing process in which a laser beam forms a melt pool on a metallic substrate, into which powder is fed. The powder melts to form a deposit that is fusion-bonded to the substrate. The required geometry is built up in this way, layer by layer. Both the laser and nozzle from which the powder is delivered are manipulated using a gantry system or robotic arm.
  • Azul 3D, Inc (High Area Rapid Printing – HARP), James Hedrick. High-area rapid printing (HARP) is a stereolithography (SLA) method that permits the continuous, high-throughput printing of large objects at rapid speeds/ This method was introduced in 2019 by the Mirkin Research Group at Northwestern University in order to address drawbacks associated with traditional SLA manufacturing processes. Since the polymerization reactions involved in SLA are highly exothermic processes, the production of objects at high-throughputs is associated with high temperatures that can result in structural defects. HARP addresses this problem by utilizing a solid-liquid slip boundary (Figure 2[1]) that cools the resin by withdrawing heat from the system. This allows for large structures to be fabricated quickly without the temperature-associated defects inherent to other SLA processes.
  • Impossible Objects Electronics Tooling (Composite Based Additive Manufacturing – CBAM), Thor Maan de Kok = CBAM technology uses nonwoven felt/mats of carbon, glass, and Kevlar to 3D print strong, functional and complex parts faster than with conventional processes. Eliminates tooling for time and cost savings. Produces complex geometries not previously possible with fiber- reinforced composites. In the process sheets of fibre reinforcement material, such as carbon fibre, are passed beneath an inkjet printhead, which deposits a liquid solution onto the sheet, in that layer’s shape.
  • Sciaky, Inc. (Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing – EBAM), Kenn Lachenberg. Sciaky’s Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) is a one-of-a-kind metal 3D printing technology that delivers on the key benefits mentioned above and excels at producing large-scale, high-value metal parts. It’s no secret that large-scale forgings and castings can take many, many months to complete. EBAM, on the other hand, can produce high quality, large-scale metal structures, up to 19’ in length, made of titanium, tantalum, and nickel-based alloys in a matter of days, with very little material waste.


Expanding on our Everything Connected theme and espousing the Born Not Built philosophy of Additive Manufacturing we successfully partnered with Drexel University and mHUB startups (AION Prosthetics and Nana Arkorful) in prototyping our first product – a foldable safety helmet designed using our philosophy for innovation (Manthan) and 3D printing it to fulfill the requirements for D3-AMP.

As we progress to a robust Design for Manufacturing process, we plan to collaborate with 3D print shops to ascertain how we use Digital Manufacturing technologies to build a frictionless process in conjunction with OEMs, contract manufacturing portals and the marketplace to fully integrate all the solution segments in a cohesive build using our Digital TwineTM Process Automation architecture.


Additive Manufacturing is just getting started, and its applications are endless. With the right tools and training, manufacturers can achieve their targets through AM. Product designers are already using 3D printing to create prototypes, test the market, and refine final designs. It is already changing the way products are designed and made. The emergence of Additive Manufacturing will have a significant impact on supply chains. AM will enable manufacturers to shorten supply chains and deliver products that cannot be manufactured using traditional processes.

Additive Manufacturing enables faster, more agile product development. By leveraging AM, companies can create and test prototypes internally, rather than relying on outside companies. It also enables companies to tap into flexible, low-cost production. By leveraging AM, companies can create on-demand production, where products are produced only as they are needed. Companies can produce a variety of different products, in small batches with no need for retooling, allowing them to meet changing market trends. By leveraging AM, companies can create on-demand production, where products are produced only as they are needed. Companies can produce a variety of different products, in small batches with no need for retooling, allowing them to meet changing market trends. Additive manufacturing equipment manufacturers continue to deliver machines that are faster, more accurate, and simpler to use, while CT scanning providers and software firms are keeping pace by developing complementary systems.

Utilizing Additive Manufacturing for Industry and Services 5.0, technology, process, and product ecosystems are interdependent, interlinked and work together. The technology ecosystem creates the foundation for the manufacturing ecosystem. The manufacturing ecosystem creates the foundation for the human-centric product ecosystem. The human-centric product ecosystem fuses with the environment to create a sustainable ecosystem.

Additive Manufacturing is what I call a “born not built” technology wherein we are making products layer by layer and a lot of intelligence will be needed just in time to manipulate on the parameters to create a zero-defect part before, during and after the fact. In subsequent articles, we will also explain automated techniques for creating variations as well as some additional methods for creating permutations. We will also summarize knowledge learned from 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal and plastic forming, mold making and casting, injection molding and fiber reinforced composites. We will then provide an overview of some advanced technologies such as Integrated Machine Tools (IMTs), Smart Manufacturing Systems (SMSs) including Small Factory Engineering (SFE) and flexible self-replicating manufacturing systems.

The two paragraphs below are OpenAI ‘s unedited summation of this article using the DaVinci GPT-3 engine. It is amazing the way it has captured the essence of the post and the insights that it has gathered:

What if you could design just about anything, in any shape or size? What if you never had to wait for something to be built, or saved for something that you couldn’t afford? Numorpho Cybernetic Systems (NUMO) can help make these dreams a reality. Using additive manufacturing (3D printing) allows us to build functional and strong parts out of high-strength materials such as titanium, stainless steel, and aluminum, with no assembly necessary. We are able to print new products that haven’t been available on the market before. Our technology has applications for manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and defense, heavy equipment, medical devices…

NUMO is in the business of defining an intelligent platform for designing and building cybernetic products. Unlike traditional CAD/CAM tools, NUMO’s advanced design system enables you to theme any product you can think of – no matter how complex – without having to worry about the tool limitations. With NUMO’s additive manufacturing technologies, you can create parts that are immeasurably more complex than any previously possible. With our Cybernetic Systems you can regain control of your most important industries from the lowest to highest levels. Additive manufacturing is a form of industrial magic, bringing products into existence with the press of a button. Our Cybernetic Systems allow your factory floor to be an artistic laboratory – a means for artistic expression in the same way that a musician or an architect finds it in a guitar or a flying buttress.

NI+IN UCHIL Founder, CEO & Technical Evangelist

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