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View from India: Generative design to raise the bar of innovation

By 2050, planet Earth will have a population of 10 billion people and around two-thirds of this population will be living in cities over the next 30 years. To meet this demand, newer technologies and manufacturing will redefine many processes in India.

Today, we live in a world whose population is 7.5 billion. The rapid change in the world around us brings disruption and opportunities. “There’s a need for creating more housing, energy and transport, along with a more robust infrastructure. The outlook towards communication will transform drastically,” said Shekhar Rohira, country manager, Autodesk India Pvt. Ltd.

Increasing urbanisation will also create a demand for more consumables - but there are limitations in terms of natural resources. Manufacturing companies lack skilled manpower. Around 70 per cent of all spare parts in most manufacturing companies remain unused. Space constraints, too, add to the deterrent. Batteries can be categorised as critical among resources, given their importance as components of electric vehicles (EVs) and smartphones.

While we require more, we will be challenged with less, which needs to be understood as future opportunities. “We need to capitalise opportunities by leveraging technology and automation. The demand for diverse products will increase. In the next 30 years, 372,000 products will be launched every year all over the world,” added Rohira.

Seen in the Indian context, from mass production we will move into an era of mass customisation. We are increasingly heading into a world where products are being connected through microchips and sensors. Though the products will be in sync with the 'Make in India' vision, the manufacturing outlook will undergo a sea change. Repetitive tasks will be replaced by robotics. Design decisions will alter. Technologies such as generative design will be leveraged for prototyping.

“Generative design is poised to increase productivity and efficiency in the design and manufacturing processes of companies. Generative design uses cloud computing to create thousands of right outcomes for design options,” pointed out Mickey Wakefield, Fusion 360 evangelist, Autodesk. It means the complexities of design such as weight, cost, performance and visual appeal will all align through generative design.

“When we design or build a product, we create a diverse amount of data. The challenge lies in the quantum of design data that needs to be shared with the manufacturing unit,” highlighted Kevin Schneider, chief product strategist, Autodesk Inc. This will open out opportunities for 3D printing and tools that can reinforce safety parameters in machines. 3D printing is being increasingly chosen by industries such as aerospace and manufacturing.

Autodesk has organised its Fusion 360 Academy event in Bangalore to bring together the users of Fusion 360 and double as a platform for exchanging ideas. Integrated CAD (Computer Aided Design), CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), CAE (Computer-aided engineering) and PCB (printed circuit board) and collaboration software on a single development platform is the thinking behind Fusion 360.

As an integrated concept-to-production toolset, many students and educators have used various tools of Fusion 360. The purpose is to integrate theoretical knowledge of engineering with the practical application of digital tools to design and assemble products. The outcome is a range of innovative cloud-connected products that look cool. Students have tried to address issues like product performance and aesthetic appeal. Many of these creations were showcased at the event. 

A case in point is the go-kart from Parsec Racing. This is a motorsports team represented by students of the Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering. The combustion engine go-kart has won laurels in various competitions and secured an overall 18th position in the Indian Karting Championship held at Mohite Racing Academy, Kolhapur.

For its part, Team Pravega from the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) has designed and built a Formula One prototype race car. Pravega Racing, the official SAE Racing Team of VIT University, has participated in the Formula Student competitions organised by Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The team has proved its expertise in many competitions, including Formula Bharat 2017.

Another interesting stall at the event was hosted by Just Robotics, which aims to make science and technology simpler for students. The edu-tech startup supports classroom pedagogy through programmes using robotics, open source hardware and software and out-of-the-box tools. The programmes orient students to use tools and technologies to acquire skills of the future and at the same time promote STEM education.

“Robotics as a word is very popular and this is helping us to take it to schools. We largely engage with students of class VI and above, but at times we also cater to class IV and V,” added Brijesh CA, who co-founded Just Robotics with Vaibhav B Kasal.

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