CAD Tech News (#77)

6 Dec, 2017 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ Autodesk University 2017 Highlights New Tech

Software and hardware launches and updates, plus new partnerships, are shared by Autodesk and other exhibitors at the annual user conference.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Autodesk University 2017, held in Las Vegas in November, brought several noteworthy product announcements from exhibitors at the annual user conference. And although it didn't say much about core products such as AutoCAD, Revit, or Inventor, Autodesk did announce numerous technology updates and noteworthy partnerships.

Autodesk Announcements

Autodesk Generative Design (AGD) isn't new — it launched commercially in June, as reported by Cadalyst, after a few years in research as Project Dreamcatcher — but Autodesk announced an update at AU, and the event was abuzz with references to the technology.

AGD is now available as tech preview to Fusion 360 Ultimate subscribers in addition to Netfabb Ultimate subscribers who have had access since June. The company intends to increase access to even more customers "in the future," it reports. Several recent technical updates include a new comparison feature that allows users to select and view multiple design options in a tiled layout, and improved project management functionality.

AGD works by taking design goals set by the user, such as size, weight, strength, style, materials, and cost, and drawing on cloud computing to rapidly generate hundreds or even thousands of high-performing design alternatives. It uses algorithms based on machine learning and advanced simulation technologies, mimicking nature's evolutionary approach to design and going beyond topology or lattice optimization to explore functional and manufacturing design options as well. The designer or engineer determines the best design option and downloads it to CAD for editing.

Generative design reportedly leads to major reductions in cost, development time, material consumption, and product weight. The current focus of AGD is on additive (3D printing) as the method of manufacture, but the software will eventually support additional manufacturing technologies such as CNC, casting, and injection molding, Autodesk reported in June. The software will "evolve very quickly ... we're talking about a period of 18 months to two years," predicted Greg Fallon, vice-president of simulation, at that time. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is the content director for Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst.

▶ BIM Connects Fragmented Collaborators on Megabridge Transportation Hub Project

Leighton Asia relies on Bentley Systems building information modeling (BIM) technology to coordinate multi-faceted, multi-contractor Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities project.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

When selecting locations for its annual Year in Infrastructure event, Bentley Systems favors sites that showcase the role of AEC projects in reshaping landscapes, building utilities, and all the other tasks that make modern cities possible. In recent years, the event has been held in Amsterdam — a city that owes its existence to dikes, dams, and canals — and London, dependent on its network of bridges and tunnels. This year, the host city was Singapore, an island country whose land mass has grown by nearly a quarter over the last half-century, thanks to an ambitious series of land reclamation projects.

Land reclamation was also the foundation for a Hong Kong project by international construction company Leighton Asia, which this year won the Be Inspired Award for BIM Advancements in Construction. The winning project is the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) site, which is built on a 370-acre man-made island. Housing customs and immigration facilities, the transportation hub will eventually process 250,000 passengers and 60,000 vehicles per day.

The passenger clearance building in the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities is designed to accommodate 60,000 vehicles per day. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems.
The passenger clearance building in the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities is designed to accommodate 60,000 vehicles per day. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems.

The HKBCF will be a gateway to the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge, a bridge-and-tunnel crossing that will connect three major cities bordering China's Pearl River Delta. At more than 30 miles long, the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao will be the largest bridge/tunnel complex in the world, including both the longest sea-crossing bridge and the deepest underwater tunnel ever made. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is the editor in chief of Cadalyst.

▶ Product Developers Will Benefit from Connected IoT and PLM, Arena Predicts

On their own, the Internet of Things (IoT) and product lifecycle management (PLM) each offer opportunities for product design professionals. What insights can result when the two systems are brought together?

By Cadalyst Staff

By enabling products to connect with the Internet (and with each other), the Internet of Things (IoT) opens up new avenues for gathering information about product function, provides insights into user behavior, and enables functionalities not possible otherwise. But to realize these benefits, product developers must embrace new workflows, rethink how familiar products should work, and determine how to handle the heavy data loads their new designs will generate.

The latter is a source of headaches, but also tremendous opportunities. Feeding product developers a stream of real-world data about how — and how frequently — a product is used, the conditions it operates in, and how well it performs can yield improvements to that product, and even entirely new products, according to Arena Solutions. The company foresees a future in which a maturing IoT will deliver "enormous" benefits to product developers, making this data more accessible and actionable by connecting cloud-based PLM systems (such as its Arena PLM solution) with the IoT.

"Now they can see much more clearly how to improve that product ... all that guesswork and hunch-work starts disappearing," said Steve Chalgren, executive vice-president of engineering and CTO at Arena Solutions.

It's an evolution that mirrors what happened when software began migrating from on-premise implementations to the cloud a decade ago, Chalgren pointed out. Before that point, software developers had a disconnected view of their products' use, he said, relying on surveys, customer site visits, and feedback from sales teams. Although those information sources were valuable, they left crucial questions unanswered: "How many people are adopting and using it? Is it shelfware or not? What parts [of the software product] are they using or rejecting?" Read more »


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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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