Autodesk opens generative design field lab in Chicago

The new field lab will give customers a place where they can learn about Autodesk's AI-based generative design technology.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Autodesk on Thursday announced it's opening a new public workshop in Chicago where customers can learn about the company's AI-based generative design technology. The new Generative Design Field Lab will be inside the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII)'s 100,000 square-foot innovation center.

In a blog post, Autodesk's Claire Collins called the new field lab "a place where people could come to kick the tires on the technology."

"Every new technology comes with a learning curve, but we don't want that to keep our customers from exploring what's possible with our tools," she wrote.

Generative design gives designers different options for their product designs based on their set of constraints -- such as materials being used, the product's weight or manufacturing methods. Leveraging the cloud and machine learning, it can quickly offer dozens or even hundreds of options.

At the field lab, customers will be able to see how to design, prototype and make products in real time. The lab is equipped with a DMS hybrid additive/subtractive 3-axis router, a Datron Neo CNC mill and a Farsoon eForm laser sintering system.

In April of last year, Autodesk incorporated generative design into its product development tool, Autodesk Fusion 360 Ultimate. Then in June, Autodesk teamed up with AWS to encourage the adoption of generative design.

As Autodesk continues to introduce customers to the new technology, launching the field lab in Chicago makes sense. As Collins pointed out, it's at the center of America's "heartland," which the Brookings Institution calls a "manufacturing super-region." Autodesk also already has some major customers based in the midwest -- General Motors and Ford are both using Autodesk's generative design.

In addition to using the new space to pitch generative design to customers, Autodesk also plans to host other key groups with a stake in the future of manufacturing, including students and manufacturing workers. 

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