The boundless possibilities of generative design

The alignment of artificial intelligence with the power of cloud computing can produce optimized, lightweighted designs, most of which would have been inconceivable by the human mind.

Imagine if you could itemize design parameters for a part or product—preferred material, size, weight, load-bearing requirements and so forth—and state the intended function without giving any thought to what the finished part needs to look like. Kind of freeing, right? That’s what generative design brings to the party: The alignment of artificial intelligence, topology optimization and computational geometry with the power of cloud computing can produce optimized, lightweighted and high-performance designs based on that data, most of which would have been inconceivable by the human mind. That’s the power of generative design, and Michael Bogomolny, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of ParaMatters Inc. (Ventura, CA), is a believer.

“The traditional design process involves the CAD engineer drawing a part in what looks like an optimal way, and handing it off to another CAE engineer to do finite element analysis and make sure the part doesn’t fail,” said Bogomolny. “You have one engineer making the shape and another one analyzing the shape. It is an iterative, labor-intensive and human-centric process,” he explained. It’s everything that generative design is not.

A different group of engineers will most likely generate a slightly different design, since it is built based on their intuition, said Bogomolny, but human intuition doesn't always work. At the end, engineers look for one optimized solution.

Instead of guessing what the right shape might be, engineers input into the software bounding box (design domain) the features that need to be preserved—parameters such as material properties, load-bearing requirements, functionality and so forth—and the algorithm produces optimal design outcomes for a predetermined manufacturing method, typically 3D printing. In addition to generating truly novel and optimal solutions backed by finite-element analysis, generative design shortens the design cycle from days to hours, according to Bogomolny.

Only 2 1/2 years old, ParaMatters recently launched its CogniCAD platform that is capable of automatically generating additive manufacturing for high-performance, lightweighted structures within aerospace, automotive and other mission-critical applications. "The technology represents the convergence of advanced topology optimization techniques, computational geometry, infinite computing power in the cloud and artificial intelligence,” said Bogomolny, “No doubt, CogniCAD offers the best-in-class generative design technology today.”

ParaMatters also revealed recently that it is developing advanced algorithms to enhance the overall digital thread and additive manufacturing capabilities. This includes a new cloud-based, generative design platform that automatically compiles lightweight and metamaterial lattice structures on demand based on size, weight, strength, style, materials and cost, as specified by designers or engineers.

If you’re intrigued by the possibilities—and you should be—Bogomolny will speak about the benefits of generative design at the 3D Printing Innovation Summit at the co-located Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West and PLASTEC West event in Anaheim, CA, next month. Bogomolny’s presentation is scheduled for Feb. 6 at 4 PM. The 3D Printing Innovation Summit includes dozens of other sessions devoted to all facets of additive manufacturing during the three-day event. MD&M West and PLASTEC West will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center from Feb. 5 to 7.

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