Thursday, October 10, 2013

Who knew? Complexity is free!

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.
“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.”
Sound like agile? Certainly does to me! We've now moved to 'agile in the hardware' being a practical idea...

Check out these books I've written in the library at Square Peg Consulting