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If you ask me, Generative Design is one of the most promising design tools in Fusion 360 right now. At the Fusion 360 Academy this year I got to dive in and hear some unique perspectives on the tools.

The Design Process

Overlaying a diagram of the Generative Design process against the traditional design process, you quickly get an idea of some of the high-level benefits.

In Generative Design you don’t design the SOLUTION, you design the PROBLEM!

In traditional design, each design option must be manually designed, validated, and evaluated. But when submitting a Generative Design study for a cloud solve, you’ll concurrently get scores or even hundreds of results to comb through. Every single result is already validated and ready for whatever manufacturing methods you set the study up for. Taking design improvement out of the equation for a second, even the benefit in the process is obvious. It was stated well by one instructor: “In Generative Design you don’t design the solution, you design the problem!” You supply problems, Fusion 360 supplies solutions. I’m down with that!

generative-design-processFigure 1: Generative Design Process vs. Traditional Design Process

Generative Design as a Design Exploration tool

There was another great illustration that really helped me see Generative Design differently. It’s easy to box Generative Design into a small set of possible uses. But with the additional manufacturing types that have already been added, and additional options continuously being added, it really does take a problem out of the box and looks at it from many different angles.

Figure 2: Generative Design as a design exploration tool

Imagine we’re looking at shipping routes as you see above. I know my geographical sketches are super-accurate, thank you for noticing!

  • If the traditional shipping route was by cargo ship, to get from the East US coast to the West US coast, we originally had to sail around the tip of South America.
  • Eventually, the traditional route was improved by building the Panama Canal. This is a definite improvement!
  • Air freight
  • Road freight
  • Local sourcing
  • Automated drone delivery (ok, I added that one myself)

The new route is obviously better than the old one. This is like improvements in the traditional design process (newer software versions, improved manual design tools). However, could we do more?

Generative Design is different from traditional improvement, because it’s not constrained to the traditional design process or even the traditional thought process, in this case, shipping over the water on cargo ships. Generative design adds new methods for shipping, like:

This is true! Generative Design studies can come up with solutions you may have never considered with a traditional process. It may even show you that other manufacturing methods you wouldn’t have otherwise considered can be cost effective! This is even more true with the cost estimation tools that were recently added.

As I said, to me Generative Design was one of the most exciting tools to be covered at Fusion Academy. Besides these high-level concepts, we also dove into Generative Design studies in detail. For example, I learned way more about simulation models and types than I previously knew. I won’t claim to remember everything, but I got some good notes! Just look at all those colors. They obviously mean something important.

Figure 3: some fancy Simulation note sketches

Generative Design is for YOU

Even if you’re not directly using the generated designs, several companies have gained inspiration from the generative results and then have taken that new design inspiration back into their native CAD tools to traditionally design models they wouldn’t have built otherwise. Yes, it’s expands the use even more to look at it as a design exploration tool.

Wait, what? You haven’t used Generative Design yet? You think it doesn’t apply to what you’re designing? Let us know in the comments or reach out to us directly! I’d love to challenge your idea and find a new “shipping route” where Generative Design could help your design or your business. -RJ


Do you use any of these tips and tricks in your daily workflow? Feel free to brag about your success in the comments!

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