An exploratory study into the impact of new digital design and manufacturing tools on the design process

DS 87-2 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 2: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Corsini, Lucia; Moultrie, James
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Section: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management
Page(s): 021-030
ISBN: 978-1-904670-90-2
ISSN: 2220-4342


The study aims to understand the impact of new digital design and manufacturing tools on the design process. Digital manufacturing technologies are having far reaching impacts on design, however there is currently little understanding about how this is affecting the design process. The paper reports on an interview study with twelve designers who use new digital manufacturing tools, in architecture, ceramic design, product design and jewellery design. Data is gathered and analysed using a grounded theory approach. The study shows that the design process is defined by the relationships between digital design tools, digital manufacturing tools and digitally manufactured objects. The nature of these relationships vary in direction and degree of formalisation, and they are discovered to influence three key factors in the design process: (1) emergence and control; (2) creativity and, (3) design skills. The study provides new insight into the design process, as well as providing an integrated view of digital design and digital manufacture, identifying areas for further research.

Keywords: Design process, Technology, Design learning, Creativity, Uncertainty


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