US car manufacturer General Motors recently announced a cooperation with Autodesk , whose software it intends to use in future to create generative designs for optimized lightweight components. These new components will be produced in pertinent 3D printing processes. GM says that the company has already been using additive manufacturing processes – in particular for prototyping – for over 30 years now. The program developed by Autodesk combines cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to simultaneously generate multiple design solutions for a specific component, from which engineers in each case choose the most suitable option to be produced.
The new technique has already been used in a pilot project, to design a seat bracket with fastening device for the seat belt. The software produced more than 150 valid design options based on parameters set by GM’s engineers, who in this case zeroed in on the design of a 40% lighter and 20% stronger component than the original part. As a next step, the car manufacturer wants to develop further, optimized components and to subsequently produce them in cost-saving, additive mass production processes. Volvo too is focusing heavily on 3D printing: The Swedes are exploiting the efficient processes in particular to manufacture cheaper spare parts in Volvo’s commercial vehicles division.