Philippe Videau is one of our summer interns putting Fusion 360 through its paces and reporting back to our CEO. Philippe is working on his Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering at UCLA and will graduate in December 2015. Our Autodesk Gallery at One Market has an exhibit about cloud-computing and generative design based on our work with Airbus and the design of a concept airplane. Before interning at Autodesk, Philippe was involved in that project. Philippe recently attended a meeting where the integration of Autodesk Fusion 360 and Proto Labs fabrication services was presented. Here is his perspective.
Patience and prototyping make a decent alliterative couple, but when it comes to engineering, design, and manufacturing (EDM), they pair about as well as Gazpacho and a Siberian winter. From tinkerers and engineers to anxiously eager venture capitalists, the design market demands prototyping, even with increasingly robust and dynamic simulation programs and rendering software.
As customer expectations and emerging technologies evolve with the swiftness of an adult mayfly's lifespan, so does the need to prototype; however, not everyone has access to vast swaths of CNC machines, 3D printers, or injection mold systems, and even primitive units can be more than a drop in the bucket for individual tinkerers and companies alike. Nevertheless, product designers need real parts, really fast™.
Besides coining the aforementioned trademark, Proto Labs contributes to the innovative product environment by offering molding, machining, and (soon) additive manufacturing services for rapid prototyping and short-run production — and by rapid, I mean orders produced and shipped out in as fast as one business day. No more waiting on that prototype shipment from halfway across the world as you nervously twiddle your fingers, hoping that your design made it in one piece and on time for your obsessively controlling manager.
On the software piece of the puzzle, Autodesk's Fusion 360 strives to more effectively connect a user's entire product development process from design and engineering to fabrication and collaboration.
Wait, did I say "collaboration?" What a coincidence, a seamlessly superb segue to our next segment: collaboration between Autodesk and Proto Labs.
Last week, I sat in on a webinar — led by David Giebenhain and Sarah Ekenberg (from Proto Labs) and Patrick Rainsberry (Autodesk Business Development Manager for the Fusion platform) — previewing Proto Lab's new add-in on Fusion 360, the newest addition (among others) following the software's update this past weekend. Located under the new "MAKE" panel, the add-in allows users to request, within Fusion 360, manufacturing quotes and analyses from Proto Labs for one or multiple parts. Here's a preview of the add-in and overall process.
My family is from France. Ergo, I am a crème brûlée fanatic. I need ramekins to cook the delicious dessert and to keep the countless crème brûlée addict stomachs (but mainly my own) satisfied, so I've CADed one up in Fusion 360.
Autodesk and Proto Labs have catered the whole process to impatient designers, with orders as simple as a few clicks away. Clicking the add-in and providing my e-mail address takes me to the Proto Labs website, where I can choose what type of manufacturing service I desire (see below) and then input the shipment address and other related information. I've chosen the CNC metal service because I would prefer not to taste melted plastic in my crème brûlée (granted, many plastics offered by Proto Labs have high melting temperatures).
Following the administrative procedures — which take about 3-5 minutes tops — Proto Labs sends me an e-mail to notify me that my quote is being processed. Once Proto Labs runs its analysis and pricing — typically completed within an hour or so — I receive my interactive quote, from which I can select several manufacturing options. If you're wondering why I've selected copper ramekins, it's because I originally wanted to bake cannelés, but that's beside the point.
But here's the real kicker in the add-in: the manufacturability feedback — also located within the quote — that suggests modifications to ensure the successful production of the prototype. If, for instance, the thin walls of my crème brûlée ramekin would result in a poorly CNC'd part, then the Proto Labs quote may suggest thickening those features. I can then modify the necessary parts in Fusion 360 rather than having spent the time and money on a poorly designed ramekin, thus resulting in a perhaps foul dessert and displeased customer.
Real-time manufacturability analysis and pricing would further accelerate the iterative design process, allowing the user to quickly modify his/her model in accordance with Proto Labs' feedback. Nevertheless, from what I saw during the webinar, the add-in — in its current form — represents a significant addition to the design-manufacturing nexus in Fusion 360.
One might say the two companies are ra-mekin the design process.
Thanks Philippe. The Autodesk vision is to help people IMAGINE, DESIGN, and CREATE a better world. Through our partnership with Proto Labs, here's another tool in the CREATE arsenal.
Crème brûlée creation is alive in the lab.