Autodesk Appeals to Doers and Dreamers

Autodesk software supports practical applications in the machine shop as well as imaginative creations in the inventor’s studio.


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Manufacturing professionals come to IMTS primarily as “doers,” that is, as individuals or teams there to accomplish something—find the best and latest technology, learn how to make processes more productive or discover fresh concepts in plant management.

Autodesk can show them new developments such as Fusion Production, a cloud-based system that combines scheduling, production tracking and machine monitoring on one platform. This is Autodesk’s offering in the “smart manufacturing” arena that is distinguished by a practical approach to integrating machine tool data correction, analytics and shop control functions, including access to CAD models and CNC program files. The latest release of PowerMill, the company’s flagship CAM programming system, is also on display.

However, IMTS is also the place for “dreamers,” the current or would-be entrepreneurs looking for inspiration, a boost to the imagination or simply the “gee-whiz factor.” Autodesk can show them a ship's propellor made using a rapid production process combining wire and arc additive manufacturing, subtractive machining, and grinding techniques. Developed for the Port of Rotterdam, this hybrid process can produce critical replacement parts that get cargo ships sailing again in days instead of weeks. Software to program the six-axis robots and machine tools involved in the process came from Autodesk.

Even more eye-catching than the propellor is an electrically-powered motorcycle that can out-race the world’s fastest combustion-engine motorcycle. Conceived and built by aptly-named Lightning Motorcycles, this electric bike has components designed with Autodesk’s generative design software that uses an iterative process to optimize performance. This software rapidly produces hundreds of possible variations based on constraints determined by engineers, such as shape, mass and placement of part features, to find the best combination.

And then there’s the Mono, a supercar that may be the ultimate in custom auto manufacturing. It has a raised spine and sleek contours that maximize downforce for compelling performance on the road or track. The builder, Briggs Automotive Co., uses Autodesk design software to make each car “fit drivers like a glove,” as well as achieve an aesthetic that is as unexpected as it is aerodynamically functional.

“Our goals at IMTS are indeed twofold: We want to show manufacturers the tools we offer to do their existing jobs more efficiently, but we also want to inspire engineers to embrace the future of making things—whether that’s exploring AI-powered generative design, hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing, a cloud-connected factory floor, or all of the above,” says Stephen Hooper, senior director of manufacturing strategy. “So, yes, in way you can say we want to help make the dreamers doers and the doers dreamers.” .