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Generative Design and Engineering Productivity

Tuesday April 9, 2019

The market for software with generative design tools will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 24 percent, reaching $44.5 billion by 2030. According to a new report published by ABI Research, these sales include licenses and subscription revenues for computer-aided design (CAD) products with generative design tools or standalone generative design software products.

Generative design almost sounds like it can engineer superior products autonomously. The technology has not quite reached that level. But these solutions do help engineers create better designs faster, improve the shape of a component, and even create entire systems architectures with optimized electrical engineering. Generative design also enables the production of lighter, cheaper components while maintaining strength and solidity. Ultimately creating a higher-quality product, generative design generates the geometric shapes from an engineer’s requirements rather than changing existing shapes. Many iterations, variations or alternatives are made for engineers to compare, rather than simply removing unnecessary pieces or particles from one pre-existing design.

Three vendors (Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes and Siemens) have captured most of the early market share, but PTC recently acquired Frustum and will embed its entire solution into Creo as a kernel with native integration. Frustum currently only has a few thousand users of its own products, but Creo has hundreds of thousands, which will immediately place PTC among those other leaders. Dassault Systèmes came to market with generative design tools in its CATIA product, and several of Siemens products, including NX, NX Nastran, HEEDS, Capital, and Simcenter 3D, generate and validate designs in the context of constraints with a combination of artificial intelligence, rules-based algorithms, and graphics processing.

The automotive industry represents the largest opportunity globally, with $18.5 billion in generative design software revenues forecast for 2030. In China, which will overtake the United States as the largest market, industrial machinery is the biggest opportunity, creating $5 billion in generative design software revenues in 2030. In France, aerospace and defense (A&D) leads the way. At first, generative design will grow with additive manufacturing in automotive and A&D, but, as more engineers start to use these tools, they will see that generative design has applications beyond additively manufactured parts.

For supply chain management professionals, the first step should be figuring out how generative design fits into an organization’s broader industry 4.0 strategy. Generative design provides the most value when paired with an internet of things platform and involves performance and production simulation software for feedback loops and manufacturability tests. It should also deeply integrate with product life cycle management (PLM) software.

Then, measure results for continuous improvement. No one can consistently improve without constructive feedback. Vendors of generative design tools should provide opportunities for users to compare older products with generatively designed products. They can do this by integrating with metrology and inspection equipment, PLM software, or IOT platforms. These comparisons are valuable for any variables that matter, such as weight, cost and overall performance.