How to Bring Generative Design to Layouts and Assemblies

David Benjamin is the head of The Living at Autodesk, and his team served as the interior design architects of Autodesk’s new office.

Benjamin’s team also brought the generative design tool to life using genetic algorithms, which gave the program the flexibility to work with many parameters, goals and applications.

Genetic algorithms define the steps Autodesks’ generative design tool uses to come up with the next design. The algorithm is based off of natural selection, hence the name.

Benjamin notes that this new generative tool isn’t just for industrial designers. Manufacturing engineers, plant designers and even mechanical engineers can theoretically use this technology to optimize their workspaces or designs.

“It’s flexible and able to account for 6, or even 10 goals, for the space,” confirmed Benjamin.“It’s a good platform to work for a specific space, or a part in aerospace. Say you want to optimize a part’s weight and structural performance. This was a goal we had for Airbus to make a lighter-weight aircraft part. We’ve also had goals to optimize daylight and productivity in a workspace like Autodesk’s Toronto office. We can use the same genetic generative design algorithms.”

Think about it. How much difference is there between optimizing the layout of an office and optimizing a factory, or even optimizing a mechanism? It’s all a bunch of parts that need to be fit and arranged together in the best way possible. What changes in these scenarios are the parameters and constraints that govern the placement of each part of your puzzle. The computer doesn’t care what those parameter or pieces are; it just uses the algorithm to optimize them to the programmer’s tastes.

“We like using genetic algorithms as it’s a very flexible approach to creating a lot of designs and learning over times which are better and which are worse,” said Benjamin.“It’s also a good algorithm for exploring very widely and not to quickly home in on a design you think is good. It still explores all kinds of possibilities.”

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