Automation: The Must-Have Capability to Accelerate Innovation

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Imagining and creating new products can be the best part of the job. It’s often why we became designers or engineers in the first place. But think about this: the whole time you are developing products, you’re losing money. 

For business leaders in product-focused businesses, the time it takes to deliver a product to market is a key barrier to business success. When you put it that way, it’s no wonder design and engineering teams are under such extraordinary pressure. 

And that creates a tension. On the one hand, there’s a perception that speed equals lack of quality. On the other hand, the job of the design and engineering team is to ensure that the final product is successful. What if you rush through the development process—and discover (too late) that your shiny new product is costly to produce, unsuccessful with customers, or simply faulty? 

If you take your time and do it right, the design and engineering process will take too long. If you speed it through, you haven’t done your job properly. Either way could mean trouble for you. 

So, how do you maintain quality while reducing design cycle time? 

“Through one package, we create configurable models for our teams, who can view and manage entire projects in one place.” —Mathias Bergfjord, R&D Engineer at PulPac 

Improve time-to-market with rapid prototyping 

Your prototype can either be the starting point of your design, before you move into CAD, or it can be the outcome of the CAD design process. Either way, modern rapid prototyping technologies, such as 3D printing and small-footprint CNC machines, put additive and subtractive manufacturing directly into the hands of your product development teams, dramatically shortening an otherwise laborious prototyping process. 

Instead of sending designs to a prototyping workshop, your development team can create them directly, lowering product development costs and speeding up design iterations. Designers can quickly create a physical form—even from an unresolved design—to help communicate opportunities and issues, illustrate design options, and test solutions. 

This AU class by Robert Bowerman and Chris Mitchell, Using Additive Manufacturing Technology Via Autodesk Fusion 360 and Inventor, can show you how to make the best use of your CAD model for rapid prototyping. 

Improve collaboration with Extended Reality (XR) 

The advantage of a physical prototype is that we can view it from all angles; we can assess its form, its color, its texture—even the way it feels in our hands. 

The disadvantage is that all stakeholders must be in the same physical location to review the prototype. Or you need to make multiple copies and ship them out to each stakeholder for asynchronous review. 

Physical review of design prototypes can be time-consuming, expensive, and prone to misunderstandings and mixed messages—slowing down design cycle time and delaying the launch of your product. 

How can you improve collaboration and design review using the 3D digital model you already have? 

The answer is Extended Reality (XR). An exciting way to create digital prototypes through technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), XR prototypes have several advantages over their physical counterparts. 

To start, they offer you the ability to bring all stakeholders—regardless of location—into a single virtual environment to review the same 3D model simultaneously, improving decision-making and alignment. 

Reviewers can assess design options in real-time, which is particularly helpful for personalized or configurable designs. Each change made to the CAD model can be reflected and reviewed in the virtual environment immediately. 

To learn more, check out this AU class, Visual Collaboration and Communication in Design and Manufacturing Using VRED, led by Pascal Seifert and Lukas Fäth. 

Learn more about the benefits of automation 

To continue learning how designers and engineers like you are improving product development cycle time with Autodesk design and engineering tools, check out these playlists of classes from AU, the design and make conference: 

For additional free resources for designers and engineers, including case studies and software training, visit our Design & Engineering page.