Generative Design is a design exploration process that helps designers and engineers to generate high performing alternatives from a single idea. It aids in generating multiple solutions instead of just one single solution, and explores all the possible permutations of a solution and quickly generates design alternatives. The generative design software tests and learns from each iteration to gather a database of what alternatives work and what doesn’t.
The Fundamentals of Generative Design
Generative Design is an iterative design process that autonomously creates optimal designs from a set of system design requirements. It uses the power of artificial Intelligence and compute power of the cloud, which enables engineers and product designers to create thousands of design options and design solutions by simply defining their design problem by inputting basic parameters such as height, weight, strength and material options.
Engineers and product designers can interact with the generative design software and specify their goals and requirements including preferred materials and manufacturing processes, and the generative engine will produce a manufacture ready design as a starting point or as a final solution.
Generative Design is based on Artificial Intelligence algorithms which generates the best designs according to the criteria given. These criteria include-
- Information about physical constraints
- Information regarding pressures, forces and loads
- Information about the material you have access to and might be considered for creating a part
- Information about the manufacturing
Based on these criteria, the program will be able to design solutions. The engineer or the product designer can then choose the design based on their own experience and criteria. Multiple solutions and design enable engineers and product designers to compare different possibilities.
Evolution of Generative Design Software
Generative design is not a new theory, however its origins couldn’t be exactly documented. Initially it appeared in architecture, where prototypes of computer programs generating varying possible solutions were found. Later in the 1990s, new programming languages and tools emerged and designers could have their own assisting software, but it was quite costly and not easy to afford. Additionally, outcomes of the generative design software were based on simplified abstraction of the real world. Nevertheless, generative design was still ahead of its time in the field of production, construction and manufacturing.
However, significant developments in mechanical engineering came in the form of fast and infinite computing, where additive manufacturing or 3D printing allowed factories to build complicated parts which otherwise would be impossible to do so. Due to this, Generative design became an integral part of computer-aided design systems (CAD) and established its grounds in manufacturing. By the year 2010, the ability of generative design software was further enhanced because of which the demand for human interference gradually decreased. So even in the case of non-computable criteria or unclear standards, people are still able to use generative design software for the entire process from concept exploration to detailed design.
The Endless Possibilities of Generative Design
The Perks of Using Generative Design
The benefits and advantages of using generative design are endless, especially for product designers and engineers, since it creates unlimited unique designs based on constraints and parameters given.
- Unlimited Choices : Since Generative Design is backed up by the power of artificial intelligence and unlimited storage capacity of the cloud, the process can produce hundreds of design iterations, as compared to the limited capacity of engineers or designers. The solutions can be further filtered and selected as per the personal criteria of the designer.
- Lower Costs : Designs created by the software do not require repeated testing or simulations. The designs adhere to the safety norms and they can be executed readily because the simulation is built into it as a feature. This helps in saving
- Part Consolidation : Generative design helps in reducing overall part manufacturing and maintenance costs by integrating multiple parts into a single
- Overcomes barriers to Creativity: The design options are way beyond what a human mind can envision. Due to time constraints, engineers and designers are sometimes pressed for creative solutions, hence generative design helps to overcome such problems.
- Automated Adjustments : Generative design is one step ahead of the parametric model in terms of automated adjustments. The iterative process designs solutions on the basis of constraints and parameters defined by the In case of any changes, they are automatically adjusted and processed quickly.
Real World Applications of Generative Design
Generative Design is not restricted to a single field. In fact, it is used extensively in multiple fields such as aerospace, architecture and construction.
- Aerospace: Generative design is used to explore new designs and to improve performance, while considering the goals of weight reduction, environmental impact and safety.
- Industrial Machinery: Manufacturers who design tools and equipment use generative design to break innovation barriers.
- Automotive: Generative Design is being used by the automotive industry to design light weight components to part consolidation.
- Consumer Goods: Generative Design provides product designers with the ability to generate multiple CAD-ready, process solutions for design problems that will have a positive impact on innovation and productivity.
- Building Products: Industrial Building Product Suppliers use Generative Design and additive manufacturing to simplify complex assemblies.
Additive Manufacturing and its relation to Generative Design – 3D Printing
Generative Design (GD) and 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing is, many believe, a perfect combo, a match made in manufacturing heaven. Each brings out the best in the other. Each has its own strengths, but together they are formidable.
As a way of modeling complex 3D forms, Generative Design algorithms often produce membrane-like lattice structures unimaginable to human engineers, and impossible to construct manually in conventional modeling software. Such forms are also impractical to produce using traditional machining. 3D Printing is very often the only reasonable means to fabricate the geometry proposed by Generative Design algorithms.
Similarly, Additive manufacturing is a sophisticated manufacturing technology looking for a challenge. Geometry conceived in classic parametric CAD programs is too simple to benefit from Additive Manufacturing. To justify investing in Additive manufacturing, not just in the hardware and material costs but also in dedicated training and process development, pioneering enterprises need a new kind of software that can design unprecedented topology. Generative Design turns out to be the perfect kind of software for this.
In the last decade, the relation between 3D printing and Generative Design is getting stronger resulting in notable mergers and acquisitions.
Notable Companies engaged in Generative Design and Additive Manufacturing
As the business world is highly dynamic and susceptible to competitive external forces along with facing time constraints and barriers, these companies are using generative design software to make product design and manufacturing more efficient — and improve product performance.
- ParaMatters – Multi-Material Topology Optimization : ParaMatters is a US-based startup that develops a cloud-based platform for generative design and additive manufacturing. ‘CogniCAD’ by ParaMatters employs multi-material topology optimization to deliver significant reductions in weight and manufacturing cost. The platform also offers meso-structural optimal generative design for porous
- CellCore – Biomimetic Design : German startup CellCore specializes in biomimetic design solutions for technical components. The startup uses evolutionary algorithms to iteratively optimize a design based on specific data and target parameters. The startup produces lightweight materials for applications in automotive, rail, and space.
- Diabatix – Generative Thermal Design : Diabatix is a Belgian startup that offers a generative thermal design software. The startup uses artificial intelligence to power a generative process that optimizes the heat sink design for customized applications. Among other thermal solutions, they offer liquid cold plates that are precisely optimized to the customer’s heat source, manufacturing method, material, and dimensions.
- Anisoprint – Composite Printing : Luxembourg-based startup Anisoprint develops generative design solutions for composite printing. The startup offers ‘Aura’, a splicer software that prepares a 3D model and generates reinforcing fiber trajectories in each layer. This software allows designers to adjust the reinforcement scheme to obtain strong and lightweight parts allowing them to produce optimal composite structures through continuous fiber 3D printing.
In the near future, items that we use every day, the vehicles we travel in, the layout of our daily work environment and more will be created using generative design. Products may take on novel shapes or be made with unique materials as computers aid engineers and designers in creating previously impossible-to-conceive solutions.
As Artificial Intelligence becomes part of all work processes and generative design becomes the norm for product design, it is certainly exciting to see what can be achieved with such technology, where we can create more things to accommodate the growth of the global middle class, making them better suited to consumer needs, in less time, with less material waste, less fuel waste, and less negative impact on our planet.