How generative design could reshape the future of product development

Smart algorithms won’t just lead to better products—they could redefine how product development is done.

Most product-development tasks are complex optimization problems. Design teams approach them iteratively, refining an initial best guess through rounds of engineering analysis, interpretation, and refinement. But each such iteration takes time and money, and teams may achieve only a handful of iterations within the development timeline. Because teams rarely have the opportunity to explore alternative solutions that depart significantly from their base-case assumptions, too often the final design is suboptimal.

Today’s technology offers an alternative. Digital simulation and analysis are now so fast that designs can be evaluated in seconds—or even less. Algorithms can automatically adjust the geometry of a part between simulations, with no manual refinement required. Using artificial-intelligence techniques, these new generative design systems can explore a much larger universe of possible solutions, comparing the results of thousands of simulations to close in on a design that delivers the most favorable combination of attributes.

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