Generative design takes our current conception of design and flips it on its head. Some even say that it fits in perfectly with the parameters of the fourth industrial revolution. While the advent of potential new frontiers in the design world is exciting, what benefits is it bringing to the design world? How can this kind of technology be useful to designers and other design professionals?
This article will dive deeper into what exactly generative design is, as well as the benefits it can bring to both designers and the design industry in general.
What is generative design?
If you work in any design-related industry or are simply interested in design, you’ve probably heard the term generative design before.
Generative design is widely regarded as the future of design as it represents a whole new approach to designing things.
It’s basically a design exploration program that produces a wide (and we mean wide) range of design outputs. It’s powered by AI, so all designers, engineers and the like have to do is input their design goals and constraints into their generative design software and it’ll spit out a dizzying array of design options and solutions - we’re talking numbers in the thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands here.
Examples of design goals and constraints that can you can enter into generative design software include:
- Performance requirements
- Interface or other design requirements
- Operating conditions
- Product size and weight constraints
- Manufacturing methods
Best of all, generative design software learns from itself, so when you run multiple iterations on the same design, the results become better over time.
At the moment, generative design software is usually used for 3D printing or low production volume parts. However, although generative design software is new and still evolving, it’s a promising tool for the design world. It even has the potential to be used for mass production.
Generative design is already being used in the follow industries and more:
- Product design
- Visual & graphic arts
- Consumer goods
- Industrial machinery
But what are the actual benefits of generative design?
1. The options are endless
One of generative design’s most impressive benefits is also one of the most obvious. The amount of design options generative design software can produce is truly mind boggling. Ultimately, they’re much more numerous than any one designer (or even one team of designers) could possibly produce.
By simply entering your desired design parameters, you’ll be presented with thousands if not tens of thousands of possible designs, just like that.
Now, we’re aware that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Just because you’re presented with a huge number of designs doesn’t mean that they’ll all be winning options. However, it’s never a bad idea to be presented with a full range of options that fit into your parameters. After that, it’s easy to browse through the design results and pick out the options that stand out. You can make a shortlist and further refine your design from there.
2. Easy to make changes
When using generative design software, it’s incredibly easy to make changes and adjustments of any size to your design.
Different kinds of CAD software, or computer-aided design software, have different capabilities when it comes to adjusting or changing designs. For example, parametric modeling is an approach designers can use in 3D CAD programs. Like generative design, it allows for the input of design features and constraints and can even make automatic updates when changes need to be made to a design.
Nevertheless, things aren’t always that simple. When using parametric modeling, designs often take a lot of time to process and update changes, especially when the changes are unexpected or significant.
Generative design software is a step ahead of parametric modeling in this regard. Design changes and adjustments are truly automatic and are processed and updated quickly.
3. Make better products
Overall, generative design software can help designers make better products. And that’s something that every industry can truly benefit from, right?
Generative design software helps designers produce better products for a few reasons. This is because they:
- They identify, repair, and improve weak or problematic areas in designs: The software is pre-programmed to produce design solutions that work.
- Variety is the spice of life: When designers and other professionals are presented with design solutions they would not have been able to think of themselves, the possibilities of producing better, more unique products skyrockets.
- Generative design software continually optimizes and re-optimizes itself: With every design iteration you run, the software will learn from itself and produce better designs.
4. Reduce lead times and launch products more quickly
One of the most stressful parts about working in the design world is the pressure that often comes along with it. Even when using sophisticated CAD software, the design process takes a lot of work and can’t be completed with the snap of a client’s fingers. Nevertheless, many clients have unrealistic expectations about how quickly design mock-ups or even finished products should be completed.
Generative design software presents advantages in this regard. Although clients shouldn’t unfairly pressure designers no matter how quickly they can work, generative design software allows designers to generate designs and complete tasks in periods of time that would be humanly impossible when using more traditional software.
This leads to reduced lead times, quicker product launches and happier clients and designers all around.
5. Increase efficiency and reduce costs
In relation to the previous point, using generative design software allows designers to work much more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Even better, they can also reduce some of the costs that are associated with the traditional design process significantly.
One way generative design software does so is that less designers are required to produce a large amount of design solutions. Design teams that might have previously required hundreds of workers require a lot less manpower when using generative design software. That means that you can reassign significant parts of your budget that would normally go towards labor costs to other pressing matters.
Another way is that generative design software options don’t require the same level of testing or simulations that traditional design options do. If you’ve worked in the design industry before, you know that design testing can get expensive fast.
Designs produced by generative design software have simulations built into their development, so once they’re complete you’ll know that your design options are already in accordance with safety and general usability standards.
6. Get creative juices flowing
Even the world’s best designers have off days and experience creative blocks from time to time. They also often have to work with time constraints and lots of pressure to come up with the next great design.
Generative design software is a great tool to use when designers are having trouble getting their creative juices flowing or feeling inspired. It’s hard to draw things you can’t imagine, but the range of designs that come out of generative software can help give designers ideas and help them meet those pressing deadlines when they might not be able to otherwise.
7. Be part of the future of design
Without a doubt, generative design represents the future of the design industry. Even though it will continue to develop in different directions and may not look exactly the same in ten years as it does now, it’s is here to stay. This is because as our abilities grow, we will continue to use the power of AI and technology to help produce the best possible designs for all our needs, all around the world.
Now is the time to familiarize yourself with generative design. Don’t wait until absolutely everyone is using it and you feel like you’ve fallen way behind. Get ahead of the curve and discover what it can do for your design development now.
8. Opportunities for local, small-scale designers
Last but not least, this is one of the most interesting benefits generative design presents. It’s also often overlooked. Generative design presents amazing possibilities for local, smaller-scale designers and makers.
As it stands, it’s very difficult for local and small-scale designers to make profitable designs. This is because the design industry favors mass production and larger-scale designs.
However, generative design software has the potential to democratize the design world and allow for individual designers to produce individual or small numbers of mock-ups and finished products at a reasonable price point. This could really change the design world and result in a much greater variety in products worldwide.
Explore generative design’s possibilities
If you work in an industry that deals with design in any kind of capacity, generative design has a number of advantages you could absolutely benefit from. It provides designers with a wide array of design options, allows for easy changes, produces great products, saves time, reduces costs, provides creative inspiration, presents opportunities for smaller-scale designers and ultimately represents the future of design.
At the end of the day, it’s clear that generative design is here to stay and we’re looking forward to seeing how it develops in the years to come.