Adaptable Engineering: 3D Printing and Agile

Video of this presentation can be found on InfoQ:

Evan Leybourn and Matthew Croucher co-present a fast-paced, interactive seminar, culminating in a live demo will show how an Agile team can iterate and print products using this technology.

Agile, as a set of values and frameworks, has been very successful in the software industry, where the cost of change is relatively low; creating an environment for adaptable teams, projects and products.

In other industries, engineering in particular, traditional development approaches hold sway because of the significantly higher cost involved in product change. For an Agile engineering approach to be successful, the cost of change--both in people and fabrication--needs to be reduced. This is where 3D printing technologies come in.

This interactive presentation will examine many of the issues faced when applying Agile to physical-engineering product development. For example:

  • The turn-around time of producing prototypes or products for release at the end of each phase is generally too long for an Agile development cycle.
  • Traditional machining or fabricating techniques are generally costly and have lead times that are too lengthy to apply to a short Agile iteration. For example, machined partsmay cost several thousand dollars and have a four-week lead time.
  • Agile requires a working software/hardware model as a primary measure of progress. The traditional review an 3D CAD model or mockup as opposed to a physical part can lead to features being overlooked. Being able to handle, test and fit an actual model of the release allows for a much more comprehensive and intuitive review of the product.

Through the use of 3D printing technologies, engineering teams can:

  • Dramatically decrease the iterative design cycle time from several weeks to several hours.
  • Decrease the barrier of entry for producing the physical product by learning 3D manipulations & printer setup vs learning how to use complex machine tools.
  • Scale their design and create highly complex products or prototypes through modular development.

Some products may even be able to be manufactured in commercial quantities using 3D printers. This is especially useful where the product would be uneconomic to produce using traditional manufacturing techniques - allowing for niche markets. 3D Printed parts need not just be cat statues and cute robots. New materials are becoming available for the low cost 3D Printer end of the market. PLA and ABS are commonplace, but filaments are now available in Nylon, flexible elastomers and wood-like & stone-like materials.

The highlight of this presentation will be the development and printing of a product using these agile approaches.


Adaptable Engineering: 3D Printing and Agile from Evan Leybourn

Learning Outcomes

Participants will come away from this presentation with an understanding of Agile in the world of things, and how 3D printing can, and is, being used to develop engineering products. Participants will also come away with a basic understanding of how to use 3D modelling and printing tools.

Finally, participants will come away with an understanding of the benefits of 3D printing–for example;

  • Decreased development time
  • Rapid prototyping for aiding design & sales
  • Increased opportunities for customization
  • Economical production of prototypes or niche parts
  • Options for restocking and replacement parts
  • The integration of 3D printing into existing practices, so you introduce a different way of arriving at the same point.


This presentation will be a fast-paced, interactive seminar. Both presenters, an Agile coach and a senior design engineer, will present their content, swapping every couple of minutes to show the value of Agile and engineering together. Throughout the presentation, a live demo will show how an Agile team can iterate and print products using this technology.

Note: An additional power point will need to be provided, so that the 3D printers can be installed.