3D Printing

Autodesk Within: Generative Design Optimized for 3D Printing

Generative design is a method of automating design by setting parameters that a software has to follow.   The set of rules or parameters sometimes follow a random set of numbers, or an evolutionary algorithm, but the parameters can really be anything.  Most commonly employed in parametric modeling, generative design is most often inspired by the natural design processes and patterns of nature.  In this way, genetic variations, mutations, and crossovers are incorporated into the design output. It can be used in the areas of design, architecture, and product design to ask “what would nature do?”  How would nature support or grow support structures here, or optimize a load bearing topology?


Last week, Autodesk announced the availability of a software suite of generative design solutions called Autodesk Within.  The product is based on the technology of Within Labs, a London startup acquired by Autodesk in 2014.  According to a recent blog post, Autodesk Within is a tool “to help engineers create and 3D print lightweight designs for the automotive, aerospace, industrial equipment and medical implant industries.”

So, how does it work? The software centers around an optimization engine.  A user will set input parameters (i.e. weight requirements, displacement, maximum stress), then Autodesk Within generates phenomenal looking designs with variable-density lattice structures and surface skins that meet the input criteria.   The performance and weight of the resulting design will increase and decrease, respectively.  The interesting idea behind Autodesk Within is how empowering it is for the user to be able to optimize for weight and performance, while deciding how stiff or flexible an object, product, or component should turn out.

Mark Davis, Autodesk’s senior director of design research, says of the software, “In industries such as automotive and aerospace, it’s critically important to continue innovating in how parts are designed and manufactured. Generative design, advances in material science, and new fabrication techniques are allowing engineers to deliver components that were never before possible.  Autodesk Within enables designers to create high-performing parts while enforcing design rules and adhering to additive manufacturing constraints.”
autodesk within 3D printed medical implant
It’s also worth noting that Autodesk has created a medical specific version of the software called Within Medical, with a focus on optimizing orthopedic implants. By producing micron-accurate lattice structures, such implants promote cell growth through and around the device, allowing it to be integrated into the bone more readily.
It goes without saying that Autodesk Within empowers those already using 3D printing technology, allowing for optimized parts for anyone using additive manufacturing.  If you get a chance check out this great video from the team at Autodesk Within, and for more information, visit the product overview.