How Does Generative Design Software Give Engineers Superpowers?
Written By: Stacy Thompson
9/17/2019 Read Time : 3 min

Ask any kid (or adult) about Superman’s powers and you’ll get the same response: strength, speed, flight, invulnerability, the list goes on and on. Having originated in the 1930’s, Superman has spent nearly a century gaining superpowers to fight the forces of evil and restore justice to Metropolis. And he shows no signs of stopping.

In the industrial setting, engineers are calling on the so-called “superpowers” of generative design software to improve the strength, durability, and superiority of their product designs. Generative software arms engineers with the ability to make smarter decisions early in the design cycle—allowing them to create highly optimized designs and innovative products more quickly.

But how, exactly, does generative design software give engineers superpowers? Let’s take a closer look:

Push the Boundaries of What’s Possible

Generative is about more than design innovation—it’s a complete shift in thinking about product design. With generative, designers or engineers input functional requirements (physical size, material, strength, weight, heat transfer, fluid dynamics, etc.) into generative design software; the generative engine then explores all the possible combinations of a solution, quickly generating hundreds or even thousands of design options. From there, the designers or engineers can filter the results to select the optimal set of solutions based on functional and non-engineering (cost constraints, availability of material, shipping, supply, etc.) requirements.

In that sense, generative design is helping to drive the next generation of CAD and industrial product design. The possibilities are limitless—and so is the potential to fundamentally shift the role of the design engineer to a higher level of product design.

Already, engineers are leveraging generative design software to explore previously unconsidered design options; generative is empowering them to shape the future of product design. This GE bracket redesign, for example, was 75% lighter than the original design and optimized to stay in the material yield stress.

Augment & Strengthen Existing Design Capabilities

Today’s industry faces unprecedented changes in globalization, productivity, and a skilled labor gap—generative design plays a key role in helping industrial companies succeed in this new environment.

Generative not only yields hundreds of design options, but it also brings together emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, and multi-physics simulation to automatically evaluate and evolve manufacturing-ready design combinations that meet project objectives. The end result is engineers being able to strengthen their existing design capabilities.

For design and engineering, the impact of generative design is tremendous—improving product success rate, time to market, and time to revenue by meeting customer product needs accurately, right from the start.

For PTC, this is accomplished, in large part, with the AI component of our generative design solution. AI aides the generative design process by evolving and ultimately augmenting human rational design capabilities. Examples include:

  • Providing valuable feedback to a designer early in the design phase
  • Allowing engineers at all levels to arrive at better solutions faster, driving increased productivity
  • Producing designs that are optimized for efficiency and manufacturability in a way that a human designer could not easily produce

The end goal is augmented human-based product design with AI-driven generative design, enabling engineers to arrive at highly differentiated solutions previously not attainable.

Final Thoughts

Much like Superman, designers and engineers have superpowers with generative design software. In today’s increasingly competitive industrial landscape, generative is enabling industrial enterprises to explore the new, the uncharted, in product design and drive innovation at the deepest level. Product innovation is constantly evolving, and generative allows forward-thinking organizations to advance their competitive advantage at every step of the way.


Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Additive Manufacturing Digital Transformation PTC Reality Lab
About the Author Stacy Thompson Stacy Thompson is the Director of Corporate Content Marketing at PTC. She has more than a decade of experience in content, SEO, and social media development, B2B and B2C communications, demand generation campaigns, and analytics/content measurement. She is also a Professor of Content Strategy in Kent State University’s User Experience Design Master’s program.