Future – Making Things

The theme for manufacturing and mechanical design at Autodesk University 2016 was “The Future of Making Things.” Autodesk showcased how in the future making things will utilize technologies like generative design, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, and additive manufacturing.

The exhibit hall included an industrial robotic 3D printing, a brick-laying construction robot, the first-ever generatively designed office building, an open-sourced 3D printed drone, a virtual reality experience to configure a full-scale Ford Mustang, and augmented reality construction hard hats. Autodesk expects these types of technologies to be mainstream in the next one to four years but wanted to showcase their availability today for those “cutting-edge innovators who are propelling us into the future“.

“We’re all in on the cloud. Access to infinite computing power and the ability to work together effortlessly is completely changing how design and engineering are done,” – Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

I am no longer a Virtual Reality virgin. The picture does not do justice my initial experiences with VR… I was like a kid in a candy store, giggly, and excited.


“Thanks to game engine technology and innovative hardware, people can now be immersed in any world you want to create”

The Immersive Learning booth utilized technology by NVIDIA, Lenovo, and HTC. You were placed in a room and able to interact with multiple objects in this “Learning Museum”. This included stacking bricks, playing musical instruments, and turning off gravity and hitting objects around the room. The goal was to show you different VR interactive experiences. I did not catch which software was used to create the VR experience.

AU16 Virtual Reality 1

Orange County Choppers

Autodesk commissioned the OCC guys to create an electric motorbike. The bike was developed completely in Fusion 360 and is 100% electric.

AU16 Volta Orange County Choppers Fusion 360

Hack Rod

Hack Rod started a research project to investigate using new technologies in building a performance car. This project evolved into Hack Rod creating the world’s first vehicle chassis engineered by artificial intelligence.

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Hack Rod started by wiring both the car and the driver and putting both through a “punishing” series of test drives in the California desert. The result was 20+ million data points about the car’s structure and the forces on it.

Hack Rod and Autodesk fed the data collected into Project Dreamcatcher. The output from Dreamcatcher was applied to the existing 3D model of the chassis.

Hackrod Generative Design Future of Making Things

3D printing is now the plan for Hack Rob to fabricate the critical parts due to the complex forms created by the generative design.

Here’s the teaser video regarding the Generative Design exhibits at Autodesk University 2016

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing is over 30-years old but only recently have the barriers been removed to allow this technology to move from just prototyping into production.

Autodesk equipped a six-axis industrial robot with a polymer (plastic) extruder controlling it with patented software. Autodesk is now printing complex structures at “surprising” speeds. By using the robot they are not limited to a single plane and can print layers along any path.

“Robotics is rapidly closing the gap between the digital and physical world, opening methods of building and manufacturing that were previously unimaginable. Intuitive software has made robots easier to program, more useful, and more versatile. This allows new industries to emerge using robots in novel and creative ways. “

future of making things pavilion_robots

By using the robot they are not limited to a single plane and can print layers along any path. It is also able to create complex geometry without the use of support structures.

Future of Making Things AU Additive Manufacturing 1

With the addition of thermal cameras and vision systems, Autodesk is pushing the use of polymers into scenarios where it is superior to metals. Printing with polymers uses significantly less energy compared to metal and comes at a much lower cost.

Future of Making Things AU Additive Manufacturing 2


AU Additive Manufacturing 3

“What if designing with infinite complexity was not a constraint, but a platform for brilliance?”

Kloner3D 240 Twin

Autodesk’s Project Escher software and control technology make it possible for multiple print heads to work together to produce large scale industrial parts at very reasonable speeds. Showcased in the AU2016 Exhibit Hall, the KLONER3D 240 TWIN printer produces parts quickly because of its collaborative printing capability.

AU16 Kloner3D 240 TWIN

UA Architect

This March, Under Armour released the world’s first completely 3D-printed training shoe. It was developed using generative design and advanced additive manufacturing.

AU16 Under Armour UA Architect

The key to the Under Armour shoe is that it provides both cushioning and support for even the “most strenuous of workouts

AU16 Under Armour Architect 3DP Phenom

Under Armour used selective laser sintering (SLS) to 3D print the flexible (yet durable) lattice structure.


Metal Printing

For 3D printing to work at a large scale the system needs to be able to do three things: work with high-performance materials, cover large areas, and adapt to variable conditions.

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Utilizing six-axis robot arms and welding machines, printing structures in traditional metals like stainless steel and aluminum is a possibility.

AU16 Additive Manufacturing 3

The key is a closed loop feedback system employing cameras and computer vision algorithms to facilitate real-time corrections of unanticipated variations during the process. The feedback also enables automatic calibration and registration of multiple robots working together.

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Future Making Things MX3D

The MX3D robots are capable of printing molten metal in mid-air. They can produce thin lines the diameter of a pencil or tubes of variable diameter. The examples presented at Autodesk University showcased the ability of these robots to create 3D objects in almost any size or shape.

AU16 MX3D Future Making Things 1

AU16 MX3D Future Making Things 2

You can read more at www.autode.sk/robotics

Technology In Motion

Here’s another trailer video from Autodesk…