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The Future Of Making

Does Generative Design
Work with Metal Casting?

Generative design optimizes traditional casting methods, helps to uncover novel design possibilities in less time, and boosts productivity across the factory floor.

Generative design is closely linked with additive manufacturing. This combination packs a powerful punch, creating futuristic designs and superseding many traditional production processes.

But for some products and parts, additive manufacturing is a cost-prohibitive option. It requires expensive factory floor refits and high ongoing material and maintenance costs. And, many additive techniques use prealloyed materials in the base powder, restricting the mechanical properties of the finished product.

For these reasons and more, a good portion of manufacturing still depends on conventional casting. Traditional casting techniques are often cheaper and faster than additive manufacturing when producing many parts or large parts. This is because industrial-scale additive manufacturing is usually optimized for product customizations, not mass production. Plus, today’s 3D printers are often not big enough to produce large-scale structural parts.

Generative design has a lot to offer casting. It optimizes traditional casting methods, helps organizations uncover novel design possibilities in less time, and boosts productivity and efficiency across the factory floor.

Generative design offers new opportunities for traditional
casting techniques

Generative design can help engineers create products that nobody else could have imagined. Generative design also provides several distinct capabilities when used in conjunction with traditional casting techniques.

Generative design and metal casting techniques helped lightweighting an airplane seat.

For starters, engineers can develop increasingly organic shapes by incorporating generative design in the early stages of the product development process. They can then investigate lightweight designs and reduce material costs. They can explore new, innovative ideas, instead of relying on the same mold and pattern makers. The exploration occurs within the safety of a virtual environment, replacing expensive physical prototypes and tests with fast and cheap simulations.

Generative design also ensures these novel shapes comply with casting constraints. The process determines the most efficient shape based on defined parameters. Parameters may include product materials, dimensions, and other requirements including traditional casting constraints. These solutions create models that meet an organization’s design goals and conform to its casting environment. All that’s left to do is guide the software in the right direction.

Here’s how it works:

Generative design uses a simple workflow. First the user defines the necessary constraints. Guided by these constraints and conditions, the system iterates over many possible combinations of variables and automatically provides the resulting design possibilities. Using this capability, engineers can account for many different casting factors. They can consider draw directions and make sure the design complies with thickness requirements to negate cracking or shrinkage problems that may affect product performance.

The new class of generative design systems takes casting constraints into account, avoiding the creation of designs that violate product requirements while working within the restrictions of casting processes.

Advantages and benefits of using generative design for metal casting

Combining generative design with other manufacturing techniques, especially additive manufacturing, can yield wild results that push the boundaries of product design and the limits of the production processes. This is great if engineers have complete freedom and few constraints. But casted part design is restricted by a broader range of manufacturing conditions. Despite this, generative design can still unlock many benefits across product development and production lifecycles.

Nasa's JPL used generative design and metal casting to create a new concept lander.

Generative design brings value to casting by offering more complete coverage of the design space. Organizations can explore most iterations, uncovering geometries that perform dramatically better than traditional designs. Engineers can specify a manufacturing method and its associated constraints at the outset. Engineers can optimize shapes to reduce cooling times or maximize structural performance, further optimizing casting techniques.

That’s not all. Generative design delivers tangible benefits for the end product, too. It can drive extensive cost reductions, reduce development times and material consumption, and create lightweight designs.

But generative design impacts far more than the traditional notion of design. Its capability to virtually explore design solutions provides insight into part manufacturability. Users can explore how to consolidate parts to further optimize manufacturing processes, simplify supply chains, and reduce manufacturing costs.

Generative design helps users identify a near-optimal design in less time, while maximizing both the efficiency and productivity of casting techniques.


Most generative design is associated with additive manufacturing. Yet, a good portion of today’s manufacturing still depends on casting.

Some emerging generative design solutions provide a wide range of capabilities for casting applications. Users can develop more organic shapes. But those shapes must comply with casting constraints. Users must still take draw directions into account and follow thickness requirements, to avoid cracking or shrinkage problems that affect product performance. The new class of generative design solutions account for these constraints.

Combining generative design with other manufacturing approaches, especially additive, can yield wild results. This is great when designing with few constraints. It isn’t good for casted part design.

Generative design benefits casting by offering more complete coverage of the design space. Engineers can explore many more iterations, uncovering high-performance geometries. They can also optimize shapes to minimize cooling times or maximize structural performance. They uncover near-optimal designs in less time, realizing production efficiencies and productivity improvements across casting techniques and supply chains.


Generative Design Resource Center

Explore a variety of generative design manufacturing customer stories, articles, ebooks, whitepapers, and infographics.

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