This year’s keynote address looked to the present, focusing on the amazing technology that is available today. Jeff Kowalski, chief technology officer for Autodesk, set the stage by showing us how we see the world through our tools. New tools make it possible to expand our vision of what we believe is possible, but they also can limit us. So it’s Autodesk’s mission to keep expanding the outer boundaries of what our tools can do. Guest speakers included Dezso Molnar, Gyrocycle® inventor; Christine Furstoss, technical director of Manufacturing & Materials Technologies at GE; and Schuyler St. Leger, enthusiastic amateur inventor.
Tools to Capture the Early Stages of Design
According to Jeff, today’s technology can help us capture the early conceptual stages of design, with tools like Autodesk® 123D® and Autodesk® SketchBook®. Engineers can scope out various functional ideas before they are built. In addition, simulation is shifting from a nice-to-have to a must-have. Using examples like the Microsoft Xbox recall and the design of the Shanghai Tower, he explained how engineers can now bring data into the picture early at the conceptual and functional stages of design, potentially saving their companies billions of dollars.
The Third Industrial Revolution
Other tools are addressing the changes in manufacturing today—from experience-based innovation to knowledge-based innovation. In this Third Industrial Revolution, the industrial world is embracing digital design. Christine Furstoss, general manager of technology at General Electric, took the stage to explain how manufacturing capabilities are starting to enable designs, rather than the other way around. Today, we are building not only the parts, but also the properties of the materials that go into the product. Digital manufacturing is calling for an industrial ecosystem where everyone works together. In manufacturing, the virtual world is collaborating with the physical world, opening up design possibilities.
Working in a Connected World
These new demands are requiring true connectivity so project teams, according to Kowalski, can have “persistent awareness and robust context,” giving us the ability to spot problems early and address them quickly. The cloud is more than a “great hard disk in the sky,” said Kowalski. It enables a single connection point. Cloud-enabled tools can help.
This connectivity (along with personal fabrication tools, like inexpensive 3D printers) is enabling the “democratization of design tools” where even kids like guest speaker Schuyler St. Leger can design things and produce them in days. The entire design and manufacturing process is shrinking in time and becoming something anyone can do.
Autodesk CEO Carl Bass not only described some of the powerful cloud-enabled products and services that Autodesk currently offers, but also used this opportunity to announce Autodesk® Fusion 360, a cloud-based 3D CAD solution. Bass said that Fusion 360 helps you manage your data, and you pay only for what you use. You can take advantage of the ideas of others in your professional community to inspect your designs and suggest solutions. CAD and CAM are finally connected.
The full recorded keynote will be available on AU Virtual on the AUTV tab.