Generative Design in Industrial Applications

Price: Starting at USD 3,000
Publish Date: 13 Dec 2018
Code: AN-5110
Research Type: Research Report
Pages: 17
Generative Design in Industrial Applications

Industrial companies have used geometric topology optimization for several years now and have used it more as they have increased the use cases for additive manufacturing. Topology optimization involves eroding the geometric shape of a product given a set of constraints to improve performance and usually cut unnecessary weight. Generative design takes another step by creating, or generating, the geometric shapes from an engineer’s requirements rather than changing existing shapes. Also, unlike topology optimization, generative design creates many iterations, variations or alternatives for engineers to compare rather than simply removing unnecessary pieces or particles. Additive will drive both generative design and topology optimization as it provides greater build freedom to fulfill a wider variety of designs.

Generative design expands design possibilities by creating shapes different from those that humans would create. It idealizes the design by creating something that best fits the constraints to optimize the products for various requirements. Still, this does not matter if the company cannot build the product in the real world. The generative engineering software must also provide or integrate with software that provides production simulation to ensure buildability for whatever manufacturing equipment and processes the engineers want to use.

Vendors of generative design tools face many unique challenges, such as how to capture design and engineering methodology and automate it, how to integrate with legacy systems, how to ensure buildability, how to estimate costing and how to adapt to different available manufacturing technologies, equipment and tooling. How can they tackle all these issues and deliver scalable tools? To do this, they need to understand how customers will use these tools within the wider scope of industrial operations and the challenges that come with that. Most potential customers can see the obvious value in software that can improve the designs of their products but will only implement generative design if it can easily integrate with legacy systems and can guarantee value by ensuring buildability, improved performance and cost effectiveness. The ability to optimize complex products for various requirements with additive manufacturing will drive adoption, but generative design will only truly take off if the engineers that use it buy in and trust it.

Generative design vendors have already seen a surprising amount of progress. Desktop Metal’s research and innovation group (DM Labs) has a unique take on generative design called Live Parts, which grows products organically based on the way embryo cells grow, divide and replicate. DM Labs has yet to release the professional version, but Ford has tested out the beta to design fixtures and brackets for a mobile robot used in a pick and place application. Dassault Systèmes CATIA has clients such as Airbus and Safran Group using its generative capabilities in aerospace and defense, an industry that has adopted both generative design and additive manufacturing at a rapid pace as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certify more parts for commercial aircraft. Siemens has several customers using its generative design tools including Bugatti, auto supplier EDAG and Siemens’ own Oil & Gas division.

Generative design has seen traction in every industry that has already started to adopt additive manufacturing including aerospace & defense, automotive, footwear and clothing, furniture, industrial machines, oil & gas, and even building architecture, where Arup has implemented it in several projects. Both for additively manufactured parts and parts built with more traditional manufacturing techniques, the more complex the product, the greater the chance that it will benefit from generative design. Vendors should make their software flexible to the production equipment available and not expect clients to change their equipment to suit new designs. If they can do so and still provide similar benefits, they will see increased demand.

The “Company profiles” section contains an analysis of the positioning, strengths, and weaknesses of several technology vendors. This report examines the drivers, barriers, and potential of generative design in industrial applications.