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    By Clint Brown

    I thought I would share some insights into some of the latest technology from Autodesk that is available right now. With the release of Inventor 2016 R2, Autodesk have given Inventor Pro Subscription customers some fantastic new tools, one of which is Generative design, or the Shape Generator as it is also know, which is going to have a big impact on the way we design things in 2016.

    This tools uses what is called topology optimisation. Topology optimisation leads to computer algorithm generated versions of your original geometry, but with options for weight reduction of components while maintaining structural integrity. I've found this technology to be particularly useful in creating lightweight sheet metal parts (more on this below) 

    Below is a set of images showing an example of a design optimisation.

    Image credit: Rob Cohee

    Users are able to choose faces to preserve and to set loads and constraints, which allow the software to optimise the geometry based on these inputs.

    Using the tool in the real world:

    Traditional Manufacturing: Shape Generator will not replace a designer or an engineer, as components designed with the Shape Generator may not be automatically suitable for traditional manufacturing processes, but the whole idea is to get a design based on what material is actually needed for the part to perform properly.

    Have a look at the pictures above, the image in the bottom right hand corner is the optimised part, with the one next to it being the final part, using the Shape Generator as the template, the designer is able to create a lightweight part to suite the manufacturing process.

    3D Printing: Inventor 2016 is optimised for 3D printing (see my blog post about this here) Shape Generator parts are perfect for this technology, due to the way that we can now create internal ribs and ignore draft angles etc. 

    Optimised parts can be saved directly to STL or promoted to the Inventor part

    Sheet Metal parts: If you are looking to reduce weight of sheet metal parts, than this is what you have been waiting for, due to the thickness of sheet metal parts, you can optimise the final design of Shape Generated components really quickly, by using the optimised shape as a template for weight reduction.

    For a bit more info, check out Gus' blog post by clicking on the image below.