A brief introduction to Generative Design

A brief introduction to Generative Design

A generative design system offers a different approach: It takes inspiration from nature and its evolutionary process. The process of evolution is nature’s way of perfecting its creations. Every living organism is an example of that process. Consider how mutations over very long periods of time bestow organisms with specific traits to survive while others with different characteristics perish. These traits are best suited to meet its survival requirements.

In generative design, the designer is the one providing the required traits for the design, or to put it simply, he provides the goals and constraints or the parameters within which he needs a certain form. As Erin Bradner, who is one of the scientist working on Dreamcatcher, puts it, “the designer will not be specifying the points, lines and surfaces of their design but rather the goals and constraints and letting the computer system take over the job of specifying those”. A designer’s focus is then only limited on defining the problem statement and letting the system provide the solution set for it. What the system will do is, it will run all possible iterations while simultaneously figuring out which forms will adhere to the boundary conditions, and presenting those as output while discarding the others. But the most exciting part is that, the system is mimicking nature by generating bionic forms.

Courtesy: Autodesk

This simultaneous process of designing and testing numerous iterations cannot be undertaken by a human. It is only possible with computer systems having advanced processing capabilities through use of complex algorithms.

A typical workflow of a generative design system looks something like this:

Image Courtesy: Autodesk

It is worth noting that the designer can tweak the definition of the problem, it’s goals and constraints, anytime, and come up with a different set of solutions! Moreover, a prototype can be loaded with sensors and that data can be fed into the system to discover more optimal designs. The designer can input the material preference as a goal into the system and it can optimize the design based on that input, as well.

All this is made possible because of advancements in computational technology specially machine learning, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. In fact the system is able to mimic nature because the algorithm is based on how genetic mutations in animals take place. And companies have started taking advantage of the system’s capabilities to re-imagine what is possible and take that further. Learn how Autodesk has leveraged Generative Design to create bionic partition for Airbus.