Autodesk Technology Centre brings manufacturing visions to life

Robotic arms will help bring ideas to life (Credit: Joseph Flaig)
Robotic arms will help bring ideas to life (Credit: Joseph Flaig)

A “first of its kind” centre will help solve some of the most complex problems in manufacturing by using a unique combination of innovative technology, its operators have said.

Industry heads, engineers and journalists attended the launch of the Autodesk Technology Centre in Birmingham, which houses advanced manufacturing tools used by companies including BMW and GKN Additive.

Speakers including Autodesk president Andrew Anagnost spoke enthusiastically about techniques including generative design, maturing additive manufacturing processes and automation, although they sometimes struggled to be heard in a prefabricated structure attached to the centre, which moved perhaps more than it should in a cold February wind.

“This facility is a physical manifestation of our aspirations to automate the designing process – it brings it all to life,” said Anagnost.

“It’s also a practical testbed. This is the place where our most innovative ideas collide with the super-harsh teacher of practical reality. It’s where we learn where to turn those ideas into practical, usable solutions and innovations. Now these things are really going to empower our customers to do more, better, with less negative impact on the world.”

High-tech customers will collaborate to “bring visions to life, solve some of their biggest challenges and test out innovative techniques” at the centre. It includes tools for everything from clay milling to generative design for computer-controlled manufacturing.

Robotic arms built models of the Palace of Westminster and a globe, showcasing their flexibility and precision. Engineers also demonstrated augmented-reality technology and a laboratory where they could view data collected from connected machines, helping them to make better design decisions and deliver projects more efficiently.

Autodesk and its customers are combining new techniques and technologies more than ever before, said the company’s vice-president Steve Hobbs. Design and manufacturing are converging, he said, allowing companies to solve advanced manufacturing challenges at the Birmingham centre – “we think this is going to be a real game-changer,” he said.

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