Autodesk has opened the doors to a new public workshop space in Chicago focused on generative design.
The Autodesk Generative Design Field Lab is designed to help engineers and manufacturers understand how they can apply generative design to their end-to-end manufacturing processes and its potential for the future of product design.
The lab is located at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), a 100,000 square foot manufacturing demonstration and collaboration centre which, since launching in 2015, is said to welcome over 1,000 visitors each month. The lab is equipped with a range of additive and subtractive manufacturing systems including a Farsoon eForm plastic powder bed machine, Datron Neo CNC mill, and a hybrid machine from Diversified Machine Systems (DMS) which combines metal additive manufacturing with a 3-axis router platform.
“DMDII is an ideal place to open the Field Lab,” said Sean Manzanares, senior manager of business strategy and market development at Autodesk. “It’s an industry hub here in the Midwest where we can show customers and partners what we’re up to, and we can also welcome other important stakeholders—like students and manufacturing workers—who have a vested interest in better understanding the technology. Generative design is an opportunity for everyone and we’re doing our best to ensure anyone can access and use the tools.”
Last year, Autodesk added generative capabilities to its Fusion 360 platform which combines design, engineering and manufacturing into a single piece of software. Unlike traditional CAD solutions, generative design is an AI-based technology which uses design constraints such as weight, strength and manufacturing method, to generate a set of optimised 3D models.
One of the first customers to access the new lab is Chicago-based bike components manufacturer, SRAM, which is exploring how generative design could enable much faster iterations for new, complex products.
Chandra Brown, executive director at DMDII added: “To move manufacturing forward, we need to be thinking about the entire product life cycle, and that starts with the earliest stages of design. We can make things today that weren’t possible before because partners like Autodesk are bringing solutions to the table.”