Customization is as old as craft itself, but for quite some time customized products have been out of reach for most.
Mass-customization depends on parametric modeling to deliver made-to-order goods in less time and at less cost than one might have ever imagined.
Until recently, custom often meant handcrafted — and the more intricate the work, the higher the cost. That expense has limited the number of buyers who could purchase unique designs.
In architecture and manufacturing, the most significant drawback of customization has been lengthy product delivery times. When low cost trumps aesthetics, customization too frequently has meant bid-losing delays.
Today, however, parametric modeling is changing that paradigm rapidly. In the design, manufacturing, and retailing industries, customers now expect — and receive — individualized products in record time, for minimal extra cost. “Digital design tools are fundamentally reshaping how products are designed, and this has implications for all manufactured products in all countries,” believes Stephen Ezell, a senior analyst with the Washington, D.C.–based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).
Parametric modeling is CAD technology that uses parameters, or rules, to drive a design’s geometry. If, for example, a user changes a dimension, the model size adjusts automatically according to the specified relations or constraints, also captured in the model.