Autodesk Introduces a Sustainability Add-on to Fusion

Autodesk worked with Gravity to develop the data backbone for this free addition to the Fusion design platform.

Rob Spiegel

June 1, 2024

4 Min Read
Manufacturing Sustainability Insights (MSI) add-on
Autodesk

At a Glance

  • Most of a product’s lifetime emissions are determined by decisions made during design.
  • The Manufacturing Sustainability Insights (MSI) add-on helps users discover the carbon impacts of design decisions.
  • MSI shows the carbon impact of choosing different materials, methods, or locations.

Autodesk has announced the availability of a new sustainability insights add-on for its Fusion platform. The Manufacturing Sustainability Insights (MSI) add-on helps users discover the carbon impacts of design decisions.

MSI provides product designers a free dashboard to see the carbon impact of choosing different manufacturing materials, methods, or even different manufacturing locations. Autodesk built the add-in in partnership with Gravity, leveraging APIs on both sides to tie together Gravity’s carbon data with the product design in Fusion.

This video outlines some of the capabilities of MSI:

Sustainable Practices Live in Product Design

Autodesk pointed to a McKinsey & Company study that reveals that up to four-fifths of a product’s lifetime emissions are determined by decisions made during the design stage. Yet the lack of access to data has made choices around embodied carbon – the total amount of emissions over a product’s entire lifecycle – difficult when trying to take a sustainable approach.

MSI was designed to bridge the data gap by seamlessly integrating embodied carbon data directly within Fusion. Autodesk worked with Gravity’s decarbonization platform for industrial applications to created MSI.

Autodesk.jpg

We caught up with Matt Oosthuizen, a product manager at Autodesk who managed the development of MSI, to get further details about the add-on.

What prompted this addition to Fusion? Did it come from customer requests?

Matt Oosthuizen: Autodesk’s 2024 State of Design & Make report found our customers and manufacturers around the world are counting on data and AI to provide more visibility into, and suggestions for reducing, the impact that what and how they create has on the environment.

80 percent of a product’s carbon emissions are linked to the design and manufacturing phases of product development. Before the release of the MSI add-on, Fusion users didn’t have a streamlined, easy to use, dashboard-like way to understand the carbon impact of their decisions in those critical early phases.

What was the process in developing MSI?

Matt Oosthuizen: We did internal research within our technology centers, tracking material usage, energy usage and developed a bespoke life cycle analysis (LCA) for different manufacturing process, in order to understand the impact of manufacturing and design on the same product. This project took around 6-8 weeks of two engineers’ time and highlighted the barrier to entry for our customers to get this level of understanding of the impact of their products. This exercise prompted the development of this tool, which is intended to provide the required level of insight without the significant time and financial investment from our customers that life cycle analysis requires. There’s more information in an Autodesk University class we gave on MSI.

Could you explain the details involved in LCA?

Matt Oosthuizen: LCA is a complex sustainability and reporting practice which requires expertise in the field and knowledge of complex technology. As a result, our customers tend to have LCAs conducted after a product has gone to market – if at all – resulting in retrospective findings which influence the next iteration or product. We want to provide foundational insights to our customers as early in the design process as possible. This meant we needed to produce a tool within the Fusion industry cloud design workspace, to provide manufacturing-, materials- and location-specific insights to a user in a user-friendly manner.

We wanted to build a solution in a way that underscores the benefits of Autodesk’s industry cloud and partner approach. MSI is built directly into Fusion, enabling a user to conduct Cradle to Grave analysis within a single CAD/CAM package, rather than exporting values from Fusion to conduct analysis using a separate, siloed process that’s isolated from the design and make workflow.

What was Gravity’s role in developing and running the add-on?

Matt Oosthuizen: The Fusion industry cloud API makes it very easy for partners to collaborate with Autodesk and integrate their data and insights into Fusion. Our intent was to build MSI with a partner that our customers could trust with expertise in the field of carbon measurement and sustainability. We became aware of Gravity Climate through our common partnerships with Xometry, and a similar project Gravity developed with Xometry.

Partnering with Gravity and its stellar climate strategy team enabled us to create a powerful, but very easy to use tool that does all the heavy lifting of life cycle analysis set-up. A Fusion user can easily generate carbon insights for their products with minimal input and carbon analysis expertise.

Trust is an important aspect of our work at Autodesk and this tool is no different. We worked with Gravity to produce documentation that showcases how we conduct the LCA and the assumptions made in the tool. This tool is not a mysterious ‘black box’ experience.

About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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