Convergence in view

1 min read

​Autodesk is a $2.6bn software business that has for a few years been talking about the convergence of design and manufacturing. Rather than separate processes, this sees the two as a single continuous effort. It takes in both giving designers tools to help make decisions about manufacturing choices and also sees them receive feedback in real time from other parties via cloud-based collaborative workflows.

Autodesk is rooted in the design world, but it became a mainstream Machinery interest in 2014 when it acquired UK CAM software specialist Delcam - now simply Autodesk but still at the same Birmingham location. For a while, the subtractive machining world that ‘Delcam’ software mostly inhabits was not too visible in Autodesk’s ‘Future of Making Things’ message. Apart from convergence, within that, the company was very keen to talk about generative design - a cloud-hosted number-crunching process (accessed via Autodesk’s cloud-hosted Fusion 360 software family) that spat out organic, typically load-bearing structures – and additive manufacturing (AM), a process well able to cope with such organic design manufacture.

But the metal parts manufacturing world will for many years remain a subtractive-focused activity, not least because there is a massive installed base, capacity and investment that isn’t going to be trashed any time soon. Stalemate? No.

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