Beginner's Guide to Generative Design for Engineers

Beginner’s Guide to Generative Design for Engineers

In the past couple of years, there has been a great stir in the engineering world about “generative design”. This methodology holds great promise for revolutionizing the way the world creates products.

It is mainly based on artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Over the years, generative design has served as a means of creating the highest quality designs.

Define the generative design

What does this term really mean? The New collection of equipment defines it as: “Generative design allows engineers to create thousands of design options by simply defining their design problem, entering basic parameters such as height, weight to support, strength and material options.”

Generative design is a broad term, a technology that uses computational approaches to assist the engineering world. Engineers nowadays use software to design products by evaluating geometry and using logical operations.

Source: nTopologia

When an engineer works on generative design, he creates and optimizes 3D models using computer software. The user sets their preferences for the project, including manufacturing and constraint details, and the software works automatically to meet the requirements.

Intelligent software does not eliminate the need for real human work. Designers and engineers still have to consider physical constraints, material availability, weight limits, and more. In other words, this technology combines and combines the capabilities of designers and engineering with those of intelligent digital tools, all to provide an optimal solution.

Why generative design matters

In a very short time, generative design can create hundreds of quality design options based on the requirements of the engineer. By leveraging the cloud system for resources, this technology delivers fast and accurate designs. Capabilities can vary greatly from one software solution to another. One of the best choices among engineers today is nTopology’s generative design software, a tool that gives users complete control over design workflows.

With this tool, engineers can accelerate the development cycle, create better results, all using advanced manufacturing technologies. Here are the three main reasons this is important:

  • Autonomous design with the assistance of AI. By definition, this technology allows engineers to use AI to create standalone designs.
  • Quick results. A general benefit of generative design is that it brings quality products to market in a very short record time.
  • Greater reliability. The software performs stress analyzes to determine if the product is reliable, durable and of high quality. This eliminates unnecessary costs later and ensures that the product works.

These things mean there is some truth to the current buzz in the engineering world. In this article, you will learn the best ways to apply this technology to your engineering.

Source: 3DS

How to apply generative design to engineering projects

Let’s start with a couple of practical tips:

  • Do not overdo it. While generative design can be very useful for your projects, it won’t create the product at the push of a button. You still have to invest time and effort into this, so start small.
  • Accurately code your design requirements. Remember that generative design only works well if you give it the right requirements. Be as detailed as possible and in a language that the system understands.
  • Understand that this is work in progress. Even when the generative system comes up with a product, this is not the final step. You will still need to keep progressing and implementing that project until it is fully ready.

Now that we’ve shared these helpful tricks, it’s time to delve into them. To better understand how to use generative systems, you need to know the following.

Design requirements to be used

Engineers have the ability to examine the context of the project and decide how to proceed. Generative technology, on the other hand, does not have the human factor. This means that it must be unequivocally told what to do.

So, engineers need to do some modeling for this to work.

To begin with, you need to think about the space requirements for the design. Sure, some of these will be pretty straightforward, but some won’t. Space limitations are simpler – you just tell the systems what areas they can or can’t place geometry into. As you do this, you also need to provide details on the type of geometry that should be in the project.

This is a critical part of the design requirements, but far from the only thing to code.

Other requirements can be a bit more complex and are highly dependent on the project in question. At this point, it is up to the engineer to prioritize the most important tasks. If you are using generative systems, overspending resources or loading all kinds of requirements will fail.

So what should you consider here?

Let’s say you’ve decided your project should be with minimal stress, so you tell the system exactly that. However, you may forget to maximize stiffness, minimum mass, or fail to set temperature differential requirements. Unless you prioritize key requirements, the system will not be able to create the product you imagine.

How to use generative systems

Good engineering projects require a quality design studio. If you decide to undertake generative design studies, be aware that this will use money, time, and a variety of computing resources to deliver the results to you. It is very important to enter the correct information to perform accurate generative analysis.

Here are some tips you should know:

  • This approach will generate hundreds, if not thousands of solutions for you. If you don’t need so many solutions, you may want to reconsider the idea.
  • Unless you are able to provide the design solutions that are generated, or have the time to do so, eliminate this option.
  • Don’t forget the basics of modeling. Generative design space templates need it too. Design the design spaces correctly based on the project you are working on.
  • You have biases that can affect the process. To create optimal products, it is necessary to set up the generative study without bias. This means that you cannot discard any combinations that you think will not work or omit manufacturing processes that your company has no experience in.
  • Consider different types of materials. Generative technology can help you solve problems by selecting the right type of materials. However, this technology does not include all the characteristics of the materials. It is your job to consider different types because generative systems may not have all the information needed to make the right decision.

Generative technology only takes you a few steps forward

Even after you’ve done an excellent generative study and the system has made a great data-driven design, some parts of it still need to be changed. This technology has been amazing in the engineering world, but its creation is not final without human input.

Design is a work in progress. Once the product is ready, commit once to make sure it is manufacturable and make it ready for production.

All of this means you need to find the best way to transform your generative product into a traditional form of CAD boundary representation.

Understand the difference between this type of technology and topology optimization

These two terms are used interchangeably, but there are significant differences between them. Generative design converges on a variety of solutions at the same time to find the optimal ensemble based on engineering and functional requirements. Topology optimization, on the other hand, evolves a single solution based on constraints, functional objectives and loads.

Generative design in the engineering world today

Generative design is very popular in the engineering world today. It is used by novice engineers, those at the entry level to learn better and get results faster. This technology allows them to quickly produce quality generative models.

However, it is not only used by entry level professionals.

Generative design is used by engineers of all skill levels, helping them test conditions and curate parameters, as well as quickly come up with quality designs.

This powerful technology helps companies deliver something well planned, organized and optimized based on specific requirements. One example is Volvo’s development process. When they needed to use a fully variable electric motor instead of a belt driven fan clutch, they needed a new mount. Their first project was by no means simple: it required a subset of 3 pieces. Then, they used generative design to turn it into a one-piece assembly, thus creating a more cost-effective and efficient solution for users.

Using generative technology, the company has created the perfect design space based on the available engine volume, one that includes all nearby components and mounting points. They also included the engine, applied constraints and loads, as well as selected mass targets in their design. The target was 1 kg and the result was much lighter than the original product.

There have been many examples where automotive industry designers use this technology to improve weak design areas, reduce component weight, and reduce manufacturing costs. But that’s not the only area where generative design is used.

Similarly, the sports equipment industry uses generative designs to minimize manufacturing costs and maximize product performance and quality. There is also the aerospace industry where engineers assist airline manufacturers in improving the strength of aircraft components and reducing weight. As a result, airlines can reduce emissions, costs and fuel consumption.

It seems this technology is here to stay and offers engineers more benefits every day. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with useful information.

Main image source: Autodesk

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