Check out the new SUTD Newsletter – Fusion Issue 13/2019, Pg 8 to know more about us!



At the Digital Manufacturing and Design (DManD) centre, researchers develop technologies that enable high performance, responsive, shape-shifting devices to be designed, engineered, and manufactured.  DManD’s research strategy embraces the convergence of innovations in design, materials and manufacturing so that designers can on one hand explore new design concepts, and exploit integrated, highly efficient digital workflows to speed up product development, on the other.  This strategic positioning is important because such digital workflows could be more readily adopted by the industry to take new design ideas and fabrication solutions to cost-effective scaled-up manufacturing.  DManD has four research thrusts: Digital Design, Soft Mechatronics, High Resolutoin Manufacturing and Large Scale Additive Manufacturing.  In this issue of SUTD Fusion, we highlight our recent accomplishments in Digital Design research.

The digital design thrust develops a framework of common methods that merges advanced modelling and simulation techniques with new design search techniques into a computational design optimization platform. Using this platform, designers can systematically and efficiently exploit the vast design spaces created by digital manufacturing technologies.  DManD is currently developing a cloud-based version of the platform, called the DManD Toolkit. The Toolkit enables other researchers and practitioners to access DManD research results and capabilities, test them, provide feedback, and benefit from DManD research. In the long term, the Toolkit is envisioned to be an environment for configuring digital workflows, executing design and manufacturing projects, and providing a digital design and manufacturing ecosystem for advanced digital engineers.

Unique design capabilities are illustrated by a project on Computer-Aided Design for Additive Manufacturing (CADFAM) that enables the designer to exploit the unique capabilities of AM and emerging materials and manufacturing processes.  Designers can design artefact geometry and its materials; the CAD system predicts the effects of the manufacturing process on the materials for the specific geometry of the parts.  Multiscale composite materials, shape memory polymers, and soft elastomers can be incorporated into artefact designs to enable novel and shape-changing devices.  For example, custom ankle braces have been designed that can be 3D printed as flat patterns, but then change shape to fit the user’s ankle upon heating to invoke the shape memory effect.

Another interesting technology focuses on 3D technical textiles utilising whole garment, computer numerically controlled (CNC) knitting technology, used for example by shoe companies to knit one-piece uppers. DManD researchers are developing the computational design, optimisation, and fabrication framework to design and engineer novel 3D knitted devices and structures with integrated sensing, communication, and therapeutic capabilities.  For example, wearable medical devices are being designed that monitor a patient’s condition and provide cooling, heating, massage, and other therapeutic actions.

In the architecture area, DManD researchers are creating design tools and digital workflows for inventing novel responsive structures that can react to the environment for increased performance and lessened energy input. These strategies can enable the integration of ‘smart’, adaptive infrastructure in the urban environment in a sustainable manner. Pending applications include canopies that passively deploy in response to rain to protect pedestrians in a walkway or at a bus stop. (Below, Left) Another example being investigated include air-flow-responsive tensile structures that modulate air flows passively (without extra energy) help to cool people in pavilions. (Below, Right)

DManD’s emphasis on digital workflows and integration across the product development value chain differentiates the Centre from other research programs that emphasise R&D on point technologies which are not necessarily integrated with other technologies and workflows.