Additive manufacturing (AM) processes present designers with unique capabilities while imposing several process limitations. Designers must leverage the capabilities of AM — through opportunistic design for AM (DfAM) — and accommodate AM limitations — through restrictive DfAM — to successfully employ AM in engineering design. These opportunistic and restrictive DfAM techniques starkly contrast the traditional, limitation-based design for manufacturing techniques — the current standard for design for manufacturing (DfM). Therefore, designers must transition from a restrictive DfM mindset towards a ‘dual’ design mindset — using opportunistic and restrictive DfAM concepts. Designers’ prior experience, especially with a partial set of DfM and DfAM techniques could inhibit their ability to transition towards a dual DfAM approach. On the other hand, experienced designers’ auxiliary skills (e.g., with computer-aided design) could help them successfully use DfAM in their solutions. Researchers have investigated the influence of prior experience on designers’ use of DfAM tools in design; however, a majority of this work focuses on early-stage ideation. Little research has studied the influence of prior experience on designers’ DfAM use in the later design stages, especially in formal DfAM educational interventions, and we aim to explore this research gap. From our results, we see that experienced designers report higher baseline self-efficacy with restrictive DfAM but not with opportunistic DfAM. We also see that experienced designers demonstrate a greater use of certain DfAM concepts (e.g., part and assembly complexity) in their designs. These findings suggest that introducing designers to opportunistic DfAM early could help develop a dual design mindset; however, having more engineering experience might be necessary for them to implement this knowledge into their designs.

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