How Generative Design Fits Today’s Manufacturing Processes

7 January 2020All, Digital Transformation, ManufacturingDigital manufacturing, Generative Design



If you work for a manufacturing firm, the term “generative design” may conjure up images of bizarre looking metal-frame specimens with legs that only a machine would think are beautiful or thoughts of multimillion-dollar 3D metal printers. Almost everything about manufacturing automation is already expensive, causing the industry as a whole to cast an optimistic eye toward generative design. That’s because the scope of generative design is expanding to include new manufacturing processes that will work with established manufacturing capabilities.

Generative design is powered by artificial intelligence, which explores thousands of possibilities for innovative designs. The designs are not invented by artificial intelligence, rather they are human designs refined using artificial intelligence.

The Autodesk Redshift article, “The Promise of Manufacturing Automation for All Starts With Generative Design” describes three new manufacturing processes that will support traditional manufacturing methods:

Generative Design – As Applied Software senior specialist Carlo Licea explains, “Generative design helps the end user by leveraging computation to assess design parameters and create outcomes the user might not have evaluated (or might not have had the time or capability to evaluate). The user defines the rules and goals of the generative design process, and the computer software creates the possible outcomes within given parameters. The aim is to optimize solutions for one or more design goals.” Senior Specialist Dave Morse elaborates that, for CAD, CAM and CAE workflows, features of Autodesk Inventor are useful for design, simulation and visualization, but it’s Autodesk Fusion, a cloud-based product, which enables users to harness the power of the cloud for generative design.

In the following graphic example from the Redshift article, the human designed part costs $15 to produce, but it requires the use of a custom die-cast process. The generative-designed version milled on a 3-axis CNC machine costs $100. The fully-optimized 2.5-axis version costs $25 – with no custom tooling required and using existing machine-shop equipment.

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Graphic: Autodesk

Digital Pipeline – Continuous workflow from concept to finished product can transform the manufacturing process. As that process transpires now, the engineer completes the geometry, a second person does simulations, and a third person creates the numerical control g-code that tells the computerized machine tools how to cut the part. But in a continuous workflow, simulations could begin before the design is finished, with feedback to the designer. Likewise the machinist can provide feedback to the simulation process before the entire design is finished. Performing portions of the process concurrently not only saves time on production, it also increases innovation and product performance, lowers costs and gets the product to market faster.

Closed-loop Feedback – The CNC machine’s controller can provide feedback on its operating efficiency. Using that feedback, the designer can update the machining instructions on-the-fly in order to take full advantage of the machine’s capacity/speed. This leads to better efficiency in operations and faster production.

If you have been thinking that generative design is too far “out there” or just too far out of reach for your firm, maybe it’s time to take another look. With new software and new processes that can work with your established manufacturing capabilities, you can bring a superior product to market faster and at a lower cost. That really is cause for optimism. Contact the manufacturing industry experts at Applied Software today for a quick discovery call. They will help you explore the solutions that best suit your firm’s individual requirements and can transform the way you do business.



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