One of the largest surveys of the 3D printing industry culminated recently in the 2018 3D Printing Industry Awards in London, England. What makes these awards, now in their second year, so unique is the public system of voting used to select the winners. Voting increased by one third on the prior year’s awards, making this one of the largest surveys of the 3D printing industry.
Categories included outstanding contribution to 3D printing, innovation of the year, and 3D software of the year, awarded to Autodesk Netfabb. This additive manufacturing and design software helps streamline additive workflows and quickly get users from a 3D model to successfully printed parts.
Netfabb was released last year and incorporates generative design technology that was previously part of Project Dreamcatcher.
What is generative design?
Generative design mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design. Designers or engineers input design goals into generative design software, along with parameters such as materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. Unlike topology optimization, the software explores all the possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives. It tests and learns from each iteration what works and what doesn’t. In the time it takes you to explore one design, the computer has generated thousands.
Generative design at work
From aerospace to architecture and construction, with Autodesk Netfabb, generative design is out of the lab and being used in the field. For example, General Motors (GM) announced it will collaborate with Autodesk to 3D print parts for its new range of electric vehicles. While 3D printing in the automotive industry is nothing new, GM now says the technology is ready for use in the production process where it will be used to lightweight future vehicles to increase fuel efficiencies. Watch this video to learn more about this use case:
In the aerospace industry, SpaceX has long been a proponent of 3D printed parts. In 2014, its Falcon 9 rocket used 3D printing for parts of its nine engines.