Generative Design

The future of CAD

Will Generative Design enable mass customisation ?

with 2 comments

Mass customization is about empowering consumers. Its about allowing consumers to create what they like. Currently consumers are tricked into this.

Many companies now offer their online customers  – DIY design tools – which are in fact interactive front ends of catalogs . These interactive catalogs  enable millions of permutations that are not possible to store but can be manufactured, often  at additional cost. This is likely to change as competition extends the envelope of customization through the use of rapid manufacturing technologies.  Perhaps generative design technologies may be of help here.

Generative Design is about generating useful or viable design possibilities. These possibilities are now generated by random numbers – these very same numbers can also be generated by customers. The generative model could  be set to operate within manufacutrable and cost limits. By replacing the random component of generative design with customer preferences, the form shape texture and color of  hi-complexity consumer products can be scroll bared -by non designers . By bounding the parametric generative model with cost, engineering and other constraints – companies can ensure the feasibility of the product and ensure its manufacturability. More importantly, they can crowd source designs and create a great diversity of products – all of which need not be manufactured but will be available online in rendered realistic from. They will also benefit from the  marketing advantages of co-creation and customization.

Hence, generative design may in fact hold he key for unlocking the next generation of manufacturing  possibilities empowering non designers to create truly customized products.

This possibility from a design tool point of  view was fist demonstrated in Singapore in a workshop by Genometri in April 2007. Non designers designed a series of blue tooth devices using a generative model by pulling scroll bars.  Further experiments in consumer design were done by Matt Sincalir Nov last year, with very encouraging results.

Here is an interesting early stage example by Xylem

Click Here for details

The modeling and constraint management aspect of generative design may form the design rock bed of mass customization. It will allow companies to selectively open areas of design for consumer play ensuring that what is designed can be realized within cost, manufacturing and engineering limits.


Written by Sivam Krish

January 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hi Sivam,

    an interesting collection of topics in your blog, thanks a lot for that. At Lund University School of Industrial Design, we’re actually doing research into what comes after mass-customisation, calling it “bespoke products”. You’re probably aware of Frank Piller’s and Ruth Mugge’s in-depth analyses in these fields from a very important perspective – the consumer. The problem with the Kram/Weishaar or Federico Weber approach is that it’s tied to a very limited morphology on one hand and to a single production technology on the other. Much has been done using rapid prototyping and rapid fabrication technologies also, but these are, in return, also very problematic as they are slow, expensive and not very environmentally sound. The whole story gets much more interesting, if one introduces multi-objective optimisation using genetic algorithms and simulated annealing into the game, as well as real-time FEM analysis and visual constraint feedback. In that case, one can achieve three things: first, hide all that complexity and software from the consumer (avoiding what Frank Piller has so well dubbed “mass-confusion”) to allow creation and co-creation across a theoretically unlimited number of morphologies; second, continue to use established high-tech means of production using proven materials and processes; and third, release a new process to designers (akin to architects) to augment their traditional form-giving design process with a form-finding strategy. Especially in view of ecologic and economic sustainability, form-finding will become an essential part in the creation process.

    Andreas Hopf

    July 2, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    • Yes, the implementation of generative design is based on constraints. So it can be deployed in may ways towards different objectives. You find the discussions in the post industrial design group in linked in interesting. We are discussing similar issues there.

      Sivam Krish

      July 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

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