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 great film, chances are you've experienced what millions of Autodesk customers are doing with our software. Autodesk gives you the power to make anything, but some segments of the general public are not yet aware of that. So Autodesk opened up a gallery about 10 years ago to help remedy that.
The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. Autodesk Gallery Ambassadors conduct gallery tours as a sideline to their day jobs. The tours provide ambassadors with opportunities to practice public speaking in front of small groups.
Arup is an independent firm of designers, engineers, architects, planners, consultants, and technical specialists working across every aspect of today's built environment. Recently, when I covered the California Academy of Sciences exhibit and noted Arup's involvement, it made me realize that I had not blogged about our Irregular Elegance exhibit.
- Autodesk Revit // more
- Autodesk AutoCAD // more
- Autodesk Fusion 360 Ultimate // more
- Autodesk Inventor Professional // more
- Autodesk Simulation Mechanical // more
- Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional // more
Everything you need, nothing you don't — irregular elegance. Arup doesn't do ordinary. One of the world's leading consulting engineering firms, Arup has been making ambitious and iconic architectural visions a reality since their first landmark project, a little building called the Sydney Opera House.
Tensegrity structures are forms built from a system of struts and cables connected in such a way that the struts experience only pure compression while the cables only experience pure tension, producing exceptionally rigid assemblies.
Led by Senior Engineer Salomé Galjaard, a current Arup research project demonstrates how generative design software and additive manufacturing techniques are changing the way architecture is designed and built. In this case, the approach significantly reduces weight in the components of a tensegrity (tensional integrity) structure.
At the core of generative design technology is a powerful optimization engine steered by parameters such as desired volume, maximum displacement, and stiffness requirements. In the case of the Arup tensegrity project, another goal was included to avoid the support structure usually needed as part of the 3D printing process: any overhangs in the geometry were limited to 45 degrees. The software was then able to create an optimized component design, meeting the exact technical specifications, with a lattice structure and surface skin more akin to something seen in nature. The intricate and incredibly efficient final components were then manufactured using additive manufacturing.
The traditional approach to a tensegrity node design is a simple bracket that connects cables to a compression strut.
Here is generative design software shown mid-optimization of the structural node component. While iterating through many revisions of the design, the technology compares simulated performance against the overarching design goals.
Finite element analysis confirms that the generated design complies with a structural engineer's criteria for maximum permissible stress. Highest stresses appear in red with the lowest in blue.
The optimized design performs the same function as the original component but with significant weight reduction.
Digital fabrication employing laser-sintered steel powder enables the fully functional production parts to be 3D printed, and since neither complexity nor variety increases the cost of the additional parts, a solution comprising the structure's 1200 unique nodes is feasible.
Original (left) and Generated (right)
Forward-looking companies like Arup demonstrate that generative design software and additive manufacturing techniques are changing the way architecture is designed and built.
By using generative design software where hundreds of optimized designs are generated based on previously established design objectives, the unique geometry and stresses of each individual node of the structure can be separately analyzed. The outcome is a perfectly optimized design that employs only the precise amount of material thickness exactly where needed — a result that would be impossible without this technology. And in the end, we're not just talking about reducing weight across an entire structure, or being able to design more intricate and organic forms, we're getting a glimpse of nothing less than the future of building.
Thanks to the Autodesk Gallery team for the descriptive text for this blog post.
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). Arup is a company using innovation and Autodesk software to do more and better with less.
The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.
Architectural generative design is alive in the lab.