Unlocking the door to the future of automotive design
“On average, there are 30,000 parts in every vehicle,” says GM Director of Additive Design and Manufacturing, Kevin Quinn. “We’re not looking to print all 30,000 pieces. Instead, we’re being very realistic. We’re focused on production opportunities where we can provide a business value for GM and for the customer. For us, it’s not about what you can do; it’s about what you should do.”
If additive manufacturing were a door to the automotive future, generative design would be the key to unlock it. “Generative design is a way for us to explore different design solutions for parts and components of our vehicles by using the cloud and artificial intelligence to combine the engineer and the computer,” Quinn says. “By getting them to work together, we can come up with part-design solutions that would be impossible to generate with either the computer or the engineer working on their own.”
Generative design as disruptor for the industry
With this model, engineers establish component-design goals and constraints—including parameters such as materials, manufacturing methods, and budget—and then input them into generative-design software. The software then uses an algorithm to analyze and evaluate dozens of design permutations and recommends an optimal solution.
“Generative design paired with additive manufacturing can be completely disruptive to our industry,” says Quinn, who adds that the auto industry historically has been impeded by the limitations of traditional manufacturing tools such as mills and injection molds. For one, such tools can fabricate only very simple geometries.
Also, traditional tools are as expensive as they are inflexible, which makes experimentation cost prohibitive. Generative design and additive manufacturing can support infinite design solutions with minimal capital investment.
Image courtesy of General Motors
Image courtesey of General Motors
New seat bracket is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger
In an initial proof-of-concept project, GM and Autodesk engineers applied generative design technology to reconceive a small, but important vehicle component –the seat bracket where seat belts are fastened. The software produced more than 150 valid design options based on parameters the engineers set, such as required connection points, strength, and mass.
The team zeroed in on a new design, whose organic structure no human could have imagined. The new seat bracket is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than the original part, and it consolidates eight different components into one 3D-printed part, another major benefit of generative design.
GM plans to utilize generative design on future product designs, and as part of a multi-year alliance focused on innovation, GM and Autodesk will collaborate on projects involving generative design, additive manufacturing, and materials science.
"With our long-standing expertise in additive manufacturing, we see incredible opportunities for generative design. The seat bracket is just a small demonstration of the potential mass and strength improvements when we apply these technologies to many of the 30,000+ parts in our vehicles."
- Kevin Quinn, Director of Additive Design and Manufacturing, General Motors
Generative Design accelerates your product development process
Expand your ability to deliver innovative design and engineering solutions. The generative design process takes manufacturing into account early in the design stage of the development process so you can get to market faster.
Generative design tools in Fusion 360 let you explore results for both additive and subtractive manufacturing methods. The technology is a feature of Fusion 360 and also included in the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection.
Get all the tools that work right inside Inventor—including simulation and 5-axis CAM—along with AutoCAD and Fusion 360.