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The future of AI in design

On Thursday, we drove over to Toronto to the Mars Discovery District to attend a talk called The Future of Making Things: AI in Design and Manufacturing by Mike Haley, Senior Director, Machine Intelligence at Autodesk. It was exciting to hear about the new developments Autodesk in implementing artificial intelligence in design and manufacture and how these new developments will empower makers and engineer to create faster and better than ever before.

So what’s the first thing to get excited about? Well it’s something I call “conversational design”. With this new concept, a computer can take millions of different designs, interpret them, and figure out what how the object is designed to function as that part. Then the user can simply state the item they want to create, for example a vase, and the computer will generate a myriad vases. By talking with the computer, the user can describe the vase that they want or show it sketches or pictures, and the computer will continually generate designs that fit the description. The user can also choose between different variations of the design and select the one which fits what they have in mind.

While this is still under development at Autodesk, it’s extremely exciting to imagine a world where anyone can dream up a design, talk to a computer, and have the 3D digital design for that part without the user needing to know any knowledge about using traditional CAD.

Next thing to get excited about is intelligent CAM. Designing something is typically the first step in building a new product, but turning that idea into something you can hold in your had is another difficult step. CNC machining is a commonly used manufacturing technique, but can also be extremely difficult. With CAM software which can use artificial intelligence to create toolpaths optimized for speed and precision will radically change the field of CNC machining, rendering the need to create complex machining operations a job of the past while simultaneously bringing radical increases to productivity on the manufacturing floor.

Artificial intelligence will certainly change the way we make. It’s exciting to see the develops that are being made and how it will make design and manufacturing easier, and these new developments will bring us closer to a future where individuals can turn an idea and turn it into a physical object faster than ever before.