The Future of Making Things: Generative Design

Something interesting is happening in the world of design. Gone are the days of educated guesses and over-engineering your products.

Ever since the beginning of time, we have created tools that have in turn helped us create our world. While those tools have made more and more things possible, they’ve also defined our aesthetic and limited our imaginations. Until now, if you couldn’t draw it, you couldn’t fully imagine it.

What if instead of drawing what you already know, you could tell the computer what you want to accomplish?

For example, say I want to design a chair. Instead of drawing a chair and then playing with the form, I can instead tell the computer I want a chair that can support this much weight, weigh this much, cost this much, and produce something based on the material that I’ve chosen.

The computer can then deliver to me thousands if not millions of design options, all of which meet those criteria. Then from those options, I can pick the one design that delivers on the most important criteria. And the one I select might have been one that I could have imagined on my own. That’s the promise of generative design.

But why is it important?

It’s an entirely new way of doing things. And the benefits are potentially staggering. Unprecedented reductions in:

  • costs
  • development time
  • material consumption

The sky’s the limit. And when we combine generative design with the emergence of new forms of manufacturing like 3d printing, we suddenly have access.

Traditionally, manufacturing methods require you to make massive numbers of something just in order to be profitable. Small designers without access to production resources were simply out of luck,. But now we can do a batch of just one. The stage is being set for the reemergence of local manufacturing. Generative design extends beyond manufacturing. In face everything that is designed will be affected including the built environment.

How do you create an ideal floor plan? Can we balance structure for material type, strength and energy consumption? Generative design promises a way to answer these questions and create designs that avoid waste and control costs. So all that’s great. What does this mean for the designer? Now they will co-create with the technology, choosing the constraints and setting the goals. The software simply determines the most optimized way of achieving those goals. It’s going to lead to astounding results. And that’s generative design.

So now what? How can you start using Generative Design at your workflow today?

With Autodesk Inventor shape generator technology, you can create the best possible design based on real world conditions that you define. This topology optimization function embedded inside Inventor’s CAD environment relies on Inventor’s embedded simulation engine (Nastran In-CAD) to perform stress analysis behind the scenes. It then proposes the optimal geometry for the project.

Since Shape Generator is integrated inside the Inventor modeling environment, users can take the optimized geometry suggested by the computer and overlay it onto the original model, helping them identify areas where further trims and cuts could be made without affecting the structural integrity of the part.

Another variant of generative design is Autodesk Within design software solutions, which gives engineers and orthopedic implant specialists the ability to produce lightweight, latticed designs that are functionally optimized and accurate for additive manufacturing.

Autodesk Inventor Shape Generator and Autodesk Within software users are already beginning to improve lives with generative designs, making 3d print lightweight designs for medical implants, the automotive industry, and much more.

So whether you want to improve performance by reducing weight, minimize material or shipping costs, optimize an old design, or start a new design the best way possible— shape generator technology helps you explore more design options so you get to the right design, fast.


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