Autodesk is the owner of CADCAM specialist Delcam, and Machinery was invited along to the AU bash to soak up the broader picture.

To say that immersion in the Autodesk event was an experience is an understatement. The buzz and energy against the neon-lit, architecturally brash backdrop of Las Vegas were powerful. But behind the catch phrases – ‘The Future of Making Things’, ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Augmented Age’ – there was substance and leading-edge technology with demonstrable advantage that did give meaning to this shorthand, as our lead feature this issue reveals.

Coming from a design background, AutoCAD, and still very much travelling a design-led innovation path, Autodesk is, however, building its manufacturing software portfolio, seeking to bring solutions that support a complete manufacturing workflow, not just isolated processes.

In fact, it already offers a coherent workflow from design through to manufacturing with its cloud-based ‘Fusion 360’ offering. This takes in CAD, CAE, PDM and CAM, and additionally incorporates plug-ins for supplier sourcing, as well as for rapid prototyping and 3D printing services. This integrated, connected, common platform offers capability to smaller firms that they would previously have found both unimaginable or affordable (£25/month).

Fusion 360 supports a much more collaborative and iterative approach to the creation and manufacture of a design; a disruptive approach. Autodesk has already disrupted the traditional design process and is reaching into manufacturing with Fusion 360 and more.

Beyond design and manufacture, connecting designed products or designs in progress to gain performance or use data feedback is an additional element in Autodesk’s ‘Future of Making Things’ vision, with that informing improved product design or performance, or supporting new services.

This expansive vision may not yet be apparent to a UK manufacturing audience, but there can be no doubting $2.5 billion Autodesk’s demonstrably innovative and acquisitive track record across 30+ years. It is a change maker.

First published in Machinery, February 2016