Thursday, August 14, 2014

Can Design Have Integrity?

Integrity is one of the most important characteristics in a business partner, associate, even a customer. We want to work with people we can trust and rely upon. If integrity is important in a person, is it important to design?  Can design have integrity? defines integrity as an adherence to principles, honesty, the state of being whole, entire, sound and undiminished. I believe it is possible and essential for great design to live up to this definition.

Howard Roark, the heroic and visionary hero of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead followed these rules for architectural design:

What can be done with one substance must never be done with another. No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. 

These are important rules for mechanical designers to remember as we move into the age of additive manufacturing. 3D printers can build easily with materials that have been difficult or impossible to  shape with machine tools. They can create geometries that are impossible to produce with traditional machining processes. Those are the strengths of 3D printing that need to drive the creativity of the designer.

Direct Metal Laser Melted Part by GE
Direct Metal Laser Melted Part by GE
GE understands these principles and already has over 300 3D printers in operation. Using additive processes, they have been able to reduce the weight and improve the efficiency of their LEAP jet engines. GE projects that they will manufacture over 100,000 additive parts by 2020. 

What are your rules for design integrity?

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