I learned just this month that 'complexity is free'. Who knew? Some years ago, it was quality that was free. Now, we've got the whole package: complexity and quality! And, all free.
Not so fast!
What we are talking about is the invasion of the agile refactor paradigm 'RGR' -- red, green, refactor -- into the pure hardware business, and the application of 'continuous integration' (CI) or perhaps even the hardware equivalent of X-unit testing.
And, what is the instrument of this invasion: the 3-D printer! In this essay, we learn about how General Electric is applying 3-D printing to a hardware version of RGR-CI. According to Luana Iorio, who oversees G.E.’s research on three-dimensional printing, here is what is going on:
Today ... engineers using three-dimensional, computer-aided design software now design the part on a computer screen. Then they transmit it to a 3-D printer, ...... Then, you immediately test it — four, five, six times in a day — and when it is just right you have your new part. .... That’s what [is what is meant] by complexity is free.Sound like agile? Certainly does to me! We've now moved to 'agile in the hardware' being a practical idea...“The feedback loop is so short now,” .... that “in a couple days you can have a concept, the design of the part, you get it made, you get it back and test whether it is valid” and “within a week you have it produced. ... It is getting us both better performance and speed.”
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