GM, Autodesk using AI, 3D printing to make vehicles lighter

May 03, 2018 // By Rich Pell
GM, Autodesk using AI, 3D printing to make vehicles lighter
Automaker General Motors (Detroit, MI) has announced a multi-year alliance with design software firm Autodesk (San Rafael, CA), which will include advanced AI-based generative design technology and 3D printing advancements to help lighten and transform future vehicles.

In the alliance, the companies will collaborate on projects involving generative design, additive manufacturing, and materials science. Such technology, says GM, is key to developing efficient and lighter alternative propulsion and zero emission vehicles.

According to the company, it is the first to use Autodesk's new generative design software technology. The software uses cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to rapidly explore multiple permutations of a part design, generating hundreds of high-performance - often organic-looking - geometric design options based on goals and parameters set by the user, such as weight, strength, material choice, fabrication method, and more.

"This disruptive technology provides tremendous advancements in how we can design and develop components for our future vehicles to make them lighter and more efficient," says GM Vice President Ken Kelzer, Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. "When we pair the design technology with manufacturing advancements such as 3D printing, our approach to vehicle development is completely transformed and is fundamentally different to co-create with the computer in ways we simply couldn't have imagined before."

The new design technology, says the company, delivers significantly more opportunities for vehicle mass reduction and parts consolidation than traditional design optimization methods. The company is using the technology on future product designs, such as a proof-of-concept seat bracket part that is 40% lighter and 20% stronger than the original part, and which also consolidates eight different components into one 3D-printed part.

"Generative design is the future of manufacturing, and GM is a pioneer in using it to lightweight their future vehicles,” says Scott Reese, Autodesk Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Construction Products. "Generative technologies fundamentally change how engineering work is done because the manufacturing process is built into design options from the start. GM engineers will be able to explore hundreds of ready-to-be-manufactured, high-performance design options faster than they were able to validate a single design the old way."

GM had already been using 3D printing for

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