Autodesk is testing
reception among design engineers with a free download of its new Project
Krypton Technology Preview, a plug-in for select CAD programs that provides
design engineers with advice during the early stages of creating plastic parts.
The downloadable plug-in, available on Autodesk Labs, is designed to integrate
with Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Inventor LT and SolidWorks, providing engineers with
real-time feedback and guidance as they design plastic parts in three areas: manufacturability,
cost efficiency and environmental impact. Designed to function similarly to
gauges on the dashboard of a car, Project Krypton will alert engineers to poor
design decisions that can lead to costly redesigns or retooling as they
engineer plastic parts. For example, Project Krypton's Manufacturability
Indicator assesses the part after each design modification, providing feedback
on potential manufacturing concerns while the Cost Efficiency Indicator will
assess how changes to a design influence the overall injection mold, material
choice and production costs. The Plastic Material Impact Indicator evaluates
the environmental impact of material choices in relation to such
characteristics as embodied carbon, embodied energy and recyclability.
Project Krypton is powered by Autodesk Moldflow, Autodesk's
injection molding simulation tool. Autodesk is focusing on delivering this kind
of real-time advisor capabilities in the area of plastics based on user demand
for such functionality, says Bob Williams, Autodesk product manager for
simulation products. "The use of plastics continues to grow significantly,
especially in the areas of consumer products and automotive," he explains.
While engineers have a certain comfort level designing with traditional materials
like steel, they don't have that same skill related to the new plastic
materials, thus Autodesk sees an opportunity to address user demand.
Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) is partnering with Local Motors to develop technology that will 3D-print an entire production-model car. A second deal with Cincinnati Inc. will develop a huge, very fast commercial 3D printer.