When it comes to the near future of how things get made, generative design tools are slowly but surely becoming yet another useful component of the modern day designer and engineer’s tool kit.

The generative design process, which centers around infinite computing power to find optimized design solutions based on parameters that are set by a designer, is not only a way of increasing design quality and performance – but is also capable of dramatically reducing costs and materials in an effort to optimize manufacturing strategies very early in the design process.

In an effort to make the generative design process even easier, Autodesk has released a new set of generative design solutions to help designers and engineers create and 3D print lightweight designs called Autodesk Within.

AW-Fig1-2Parts are designed using lattices and skins that offer functional and aesthetic features to your design.  

The software, which is based on the technology from last year’s acquisition of the London-based engineering design software company Within, is the result of over a decade of research on optimizing designs for additive manufacturing applications.

AW-Fig2-2The thickness and spatial density of lattices and skins can be optimized for both performance and weight.

Users of the software will be able to add various input parameters including weight, stress and displacement – among others – that are then used to generate a series of variable-density lattice structures and surface skins that fall within the pre-determined specifications set by the designer or engineer. Unlike traditionally designed parts or assemblies, the resulting designs are both optimized for performance and weight and can be as stiff or as flexible as needed for the intended application.

AW-Fig3-2Resulting designs can be simulated and compared to find the best design direction using an integrated Autodesk Nastran FEA solver.

AW-Fig4-1A built-in optimization engine aides the designer or engineer in fine-tuning the intended design.

“In industries such as automotive and aerospace, it’s critically important to continue innovating in how parts are designed and manufactured. Generative design, advances in material science, and new fabrication techniques are allowing engineers to deliver components that were never before possible,” said Mark Davis, Autodesk’s senior director of design research. “Autodesk Within enables designers to create high-performing parts while enforcing design rules and adhering to additive manufacturing constraints.”


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.