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Polarities of function and form using additive manufacturing - where the middle ground might be in achieving a creative balance for SMEs

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This paper reviews: the creation of functional objects through the use of additive manufacturing (AM), including computer aided design (CAD) and scanned objects (reverse engineering (RE)). By direct contrast it reviews designs by contemporary artists/craft designers, who use aspects of digital technology to create a balance of design in its purer form. The paper evaluates these findings looking at how Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) can use CAD and AM for their benefit, and how this could be achieved: empowering product designers with the use of CAD and AM technology. The traditional method of design used by designers is hand drawings, and in the last two decades, the use of virtual photo-modelling or CAD. However, the ultimate aim is to produce a tactile model that can be felt and touched. Ownership of an AM machine should give a competitive advantage to the designers who have access to such machines in their studios.