PLM This Week: Generative Design is Behind the World’s Largest 3D Printed Aircraft Component

Plus, Arena boasts 100 IoT users and Aras releases new feature for technical documentation

Generative Design is Behind the World’s Largest 3D Printed Aircraft Component

Autodesk’s technological visionary, Jeff Kowalski.

Autodesk’s technological visionary, Jeff Kowalski.

PLM and CAD developer Autodesk has clarified their development direction. The cloud is essential for the company’s future efforts, and CEO Carl Bass returned to this topic several times during his keynote at Autodesk University.

Most of today’s key technologies are based on the cloud platform. Whether we’re talking about PLM tools, CAD, simulation, mobility, social media, 3D printing, Internet of Things or collaboration in product development, the cloud is the thing that ties it all together, said Bass.

Autodesk’s slogan is “Make, Design, Use”.

It may sound simple, but behind the apparent simplicity Autodesk has strengthened its vision, moving away from point solutions toward a more coherent and structured platform thinking.

Both Bass and CTO Jeff Kowalski claimed that we’re approaching the augmented age.

Kowalski put it like this: “For the last million years our tools have been ‘direct directed’. Today we can see a quantum leap from direct to generative”. 

Kowalski, AD’s technical visionary said that it is time to make life simpler for designers and engineers. According to him, the design systems of today are too complex to handle, and as products get more complex, the systems are as well.

It’s time to go outside the box and look at things from another angle. ”What if you could ask your system to create the solution you want to have?” said Kowalski, pointing at a project called ”Bionic Partition”.

Inspired by nature. The Bionic Partition was created via algorithms which mimic the way nature creates cell structures and bone growth.

Inspired by nature. The Bionic Partition was created via algorithms which mimic the way nature creates cell structures and bone growth.

In this project, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus teamed up with Autodesk to show how the future of product development might look with generative design and 3D-printing.

It is all about creating the world’s largest 3D printed aircraft part – a partition wall in the cabin of an Airbus 320.

The big advantage is that this component was created via algorithms which generated a design in a way that mimics nature’s process to create cell structures and bone growth. Using this design methodology, Airbus could then produce the partition wall using additive manufacturing technologies.

The goal was to create a component that was 30 percent lighter than what they previously had, but that would be stronger. They planned to leverage 3D printing to make the part.

It also became evident that the cell-like structure created by the generative design algorithm gave the partition wall a load capacity that would be unrealistic to create through “traditional” processes.

Airbus’s innovation manager Bastien Schafer revealed that the Bionic Partition will be put through a 16 G crash test in the near future.

ENGINEERING’s PLM TV News team attended Autodesk University in Las Vegas, and a story on generative design and the Airbus/Autodesk “Bionic Partition” project will be posted on this site shortly.’s Verdi Ogewell has met with Bastien Schafer, as well as Autodesk spokesperson David Benjamin.

Arena: “We Have Over 100 IoT Customers”

The Internet of Things (IoT) must be the megatrend to end all megatrends, and it’s no surprise that PLM developers have a key role to play in this space.

Creating sensor-equipped products that can connect to the internet and communicate with other devices and databases autonomously adds a whole new level of complexity to an already complex task.

Arena Solutions, which develops a cloud based PLM solution, revealed how this trend is affecting its business. The company claims that it has over 100 customers creating IoT enabled products.

Arena lists a number of things that companies must do to remain competitive and release IoT-capable products on time:

  • Collaborate closely and transparently with not only their suppliers, but also with their suppliers’ suppliers in order to resolve issues before they become crises.
  • Create a single version of the truth for the product design and its components. Keep everyone up-to-date on the latest product design information to ensure all parties globally are working off the same page.
  • Easily compare and communicate with multiple suppliers to ensure that the design incorporates the components for the lowest price consistent with ever changing and more rigorous compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Ensure everyone participates in the quality process by integrating quality inside the product record, as opposed to a disparate linked third party.
  • Visually analyze key performance indicators so they can recognize trends sooner and move more swiftly to reduce risks before they manifest as serious issues.

The press release is heavy on marketing speak, but some interesting information can be gleaned from it.

New App from Aras Taps into PLM to Create Technical Documents

Aras PLM is undoubtedly this year’s challenger in the PLM arena.

In 2015, the company has taken a series of high profile corporate customers both large and small, with Airbus (30,000 seats) and Microsoft Phones topping the size category.

But the enterprise open source developer also has a lot of momentum on the technology side. Proof of this was given earlier this week when the company announced the release of a brand new solution.

The Aras Technical Documentation application uses data controlled by the PLM system to create various kinds of technical documents such as catalogs, maintenance manuals, regulatory filings and training manuals.

The application is built on the Aras Innovator PLM platform, and requires the platform to run. But for customers already using Innovator, there are a whole slew of advantages.

According to Aras, the application taps into the PLM system directly during the authoring process. This cuts out rewriting and is intended to reduce opportunities for error.

It also means that document revisions and engineering change orders will automatically trigger updates, thus improving content accuracy.

The solution is web-based, and was developed in partnership with Orio AB (formerly Saab Original Parts AB). It allows many documents and publications to share the same PLM-sourced information in a modular fashion that reduces data duplication. The documents are made using templates that conform to regulatory requirements, industry standards and corporate formatting.

TAO Chooses Centric PLM

Centric Software, a Silicon Valley-based company that develops PLM software aimed at fashion and apparel companies, announced that French children’s wear brand Tape à l’Œil (TAO) chose to implement the Centric 8 PLM solution.

According to a press release, TAO will deploy Centric across its international team of designers, product managers, buyers and pattern makers. The main reason TAO initiated the project is to improve customer-focus by shortening time to market.

Olivier Paul, group buying director, believes that the company will be able to reduce cycle times by 25 percent with the PLM system in place, “thereby giving our designers and product managers the opportunity to better anticipate trends and adapt our offer.”

TAO plans to use Centric 8 PLM to improve the way technical specifications are communicated to supply chain partners. It also plans to use the system’s integrated mobile applications to support quality assurance at the manufacturing site.