3D Software

Autodesk integrates Project Dreamcatcher into Netfabb 2018 with generative design

Generative design will become more accessible to the 3D printing industry with a new software tool.

Starting later this year Autodesk’s Netfabb will incorporate generative design technology that was previously part of Project Dreamcatcher.

The U.S. software company has now confirmed the rumours about the generative design release that have been on the lips of many since this year’s RAPID event in Pittsburgh.

Example of 3D printed metal designed using generative design technology. Image via Autodesk.
An example of 3D printed metal designed using generative design technology. Image via Autodesk.

What is generative design?

Generative design uses computer intelligence to create a range of possible designs based upon initial user preferences. Designers choose the most applicable solutions based upon the results. The technology requires an of input constraints or goals for a project such as weight, size, materials or cost.

Machine learning and advanced simulation will then produce a solution.

The technology is expected to have significant impact on the additive manufacturing industry. Primarily because while generative design has existed for some time, the ability to make the designs in the real world did not.

3D printing is the enabling technology that can bring such designs to life, allowing as it does for the fabrication of complex geometries.

Recently Autodesk showcased the impact of generative design technology by redesigned something as simple as a seat.

Using generative design, the weight of an airplane seat was reduced as the company estimate it could save airlines millions of dollars.

Stanley Black & Decker's results of using Autodesk's generative design tools. Photo via Autodesk.
Stanley Black & Decker’s results of using Autodesk’s generative design tools. Photo via Autodesk.

Stanley Black & Decker 

A further example shows how industrial manufacturing company Black & Decker are using generative design tools.

Black & Decker’s Breakthrough Innovation group used the software to redesign a hydraulic crimper.

Since the tools are typically used overhead, reducing weight was an attractive proposition but the group could not sacrifice strength.

As a result, Stanley Black & Decker was able to reduce weight by 3lbs – a 60% reduction. Frank DeSantis, Vice President of the Breakthrough Innovation group was clearly impressed saying,

The generative design capabilities we can access with Netfabb are almost magical. It’s not brute force engineering. It’s elegant. You define a problem and you get a solution set unlike anything you’d predict. The results of the wire crimper project ensure we’re going to be applying the incredible combination of generative design and additive manufacturing that Netfabb offers to an array of other products we have in development. This is clearly the future and that’s what our Breakthrough Innovation group is all about.

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Featured image shows the Elbo chair which was created using Project Dreamcatcher, wood and a CNC router. Image via Autodesk.