Monday, August 21, 2017

Generative Design: The World Can Look and Perform Any Way You Want It To

newatlas |  One little button in a piece of CAD software is threatening to fundamentally change the way we design, as well as what the built world looks like in the near future. Inspired by evolution, generative design produces extremely strong, efficient and lightweight shapes. And boy do they look weird.

Straight lines, geometric curves, solid surfaces. The constructed world as we know it is made out of them. Why? Nature rarely uses straight lines. Evolution itself is one of the toughest product tests imaginable, and you don't have a straight bone in your body, no matter how much you might like one. 

Simple shapes are popular in human designs because they're easy. Easy to design, especially with CAD, and easy to manufacture in a world where manufacturing means taking a big block or sheet of something, and machining a shape out of it, or pouring metals into a mold.

But manufacturing is starting to undergo a revolutionary change as 3D printing moves toward commercially competitive speeds and costs. And where traditional manufacturing incentivizes the simplest shapes, additive manufacturing is at its fastest and cheapest when you use the least possible material for the job.

That's a really difficult way for a human to design – but fairly easy, as it turns out, for a computer. And super easy for a giant network of computers. And now, exceptionally easy for a human designer with access to Autodesk Fusion 360 software, which has it built right in.