In a series of blog posts, I have shared some of Autodesk's vision for the future of making:
- THE FUTURE OF MAKING is Autodesk's follow up book to IMAGINE DESIGN CREATE
- What technologies are customers excited about for the future of their work? The people have spoken.
- More Words About Buildings and Food
- Summer Intern Jessy Escobedo: Worldbuilding for the Future of Work
- More of the Why Regarding the Future of Making
- Autodesk's Role in the Future of Making
- Things, Making, and Work: It's all about the Future
- The Future of Work and the Future of Learning
This is another continuation of that sharing:
What does the future hold for how we make things? What role can automation play in making them better? A proliferation of new advanced manufacturing capabilities is changing what we can make. The things we make are no longer constrained by the physical process of making.
The things that the General Motors company makes have changed a lot over the last hundred years, and so has the work on the assembly line. For over 100 years, GM has used automation to optimize their production...
...to the point where today, a car rolls off the assembly line every minute — a car that typically contains over 30,000 parts...
...but optimizing production is no longer enough to keep pace with the rapidly-changing auto industry.
CEO, Mary Barra, is helping GM reinvent itself by reimagining its business around electric.
She has committed to bringing 20 electric vehicles to market by 2023.
That means improving efficiency, and the best way to do that is to reduce weight and complexity.
So GM is using Autodesk generative design technology to help them reduce the number of parts that go into each car while making them lighter and stronger. Our generative design tool allows GM’s engineers to develop solutions based on the goals and constraints of a part — like where it connects to others, what it’s made of, and what loads it needs to take.
GM worked with us to explore a prototype for this part: the bracket into which the rear seat belts fasten. Having defined the goals and constraints, generative design automatically generated viable design options for GM to choose, taking into account performance and manufacturing viability...
...which meant that GM’s engineers were able to explore dozens and dozens of valid options faster than they’d previously been able to for a single design.
From all the options available, the one the engineers decided upon was this:
...a solution that would be impossible for a human to design alone and yet a human did, in partnership with generative design. A solution GM designed to be 40% lighter and 20% stronger than the original.
Not only this, it's now printed as a single part rather than assembled from eight separate components.
Automation through generative design is enabling GM to make parts that are more lightweight and more fuel efficient, but fewer components also means less complexity and fewer suppliers. Automation is not just changing the parts that GM makes, it’s changing their vehicles, their supply chain, their entire ecosystem.
GM’s focus on innovation helped them create a better bracket, but it's just one component.
Imagine how much further automation could take GM. How much further all its cars could go. And imagine how much fuel would be saved if GM applied generative design to the tens of thousands of parts that make up every one of its cars.
Here's how Autodesk describes itself.
Autodesk makes software for people who make things. If you've ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a blockbuster film, chances are you've experienced what millions of Autodesk customers are doing with our software. Autodesk gives you the power to make anything. For more information visit autodesk.com or follow @autodesk.
Autodesk has always been an automation company, and today more than ever that means helping people make more things, better things, with less; more and better in terms of increasing efficiency, performance, quality, and innovation; less in terms of time, resources, and negative impacts (e.g., social, environmental). GM is one of the companies working with us to make that a reality.
Auto-mation is alive in the lab.