Autodesk has released a beta version of a generative design tool for its Netfabb additive manufacturing software, with a view to a full launch early next year.
Generative design is a term to describe an automation functionality within 3D design software which enables users to set parameters such as materials and physics and allow the software itself to conjure up a design.
Nothing is as straightforward as it might first sound. So, for example, one might imagine that, by using generative design software, a designer could set parameters for the computer to produce a structure and then use a 3D printer to output that structure, whether that structure is a single molecule of steel or a larger, more complex structure, like a car body. Basically, you could get the computer to do almost all of the design work.
The technology is available to do those things. And any designer who’s produced countless iterations of one basic design would certainly appreciate such powerful software. But is it really as simple as that? Probably not.