As we watch the development of autonomous cars, we should also brace ourselves for autonomous product design and manufacturing. Gian Paolo Bassi, CEO of the Dassault Systemes’ design software company, SolidWorks , explained his vision of design tools that emphasize the digital integration of CAD and simulation. Bassi expects computers to take on more of the design decisions, creating a product development world in which objects are designed by computers to the optimal shape and materials, while also configuring the manufacturing process for the objects.
To take computer decisions even further, the computer will select components for the product based on attributes such as weight, reliability, materials, and cost. “We’ve tried to extend our reach to a more comprehensive integrated approach, beyond what was going on in the engineering world,” Bassi told Design News. “The focus on mechanical or machine design is gone. The successful engineer is now a systems designer.”
New Engineering for the Digitized World
The process of product design in the digital world requires the discipline of system design beyond the traditional engineering focus of mechanical or electrical engineering. Mechatronics is a word often used to describe the requirements of advanced engineering. That term implies knowledge of systems engineering. “The new engineers are focused on mechatronics, robotics, and autonomous vehicles,” said Bassi. “There is a huge interest in the new professional who knows mechanical engineering as well as electrical systems using electronics.”
With the move to a more integrated design process, SolidWorks is looking to expand beyond its identification as a CAD tool provider. “We’re shifting from a single focus on CAD to a wider look at design from a platform approach,” said Bassi. “This will involve several integrated solutions. One includes platforms for the electro-mechanical intelligent objects for the IoT. This requires a platform of integrated solutions for the design of collected objects. We’re creating a solution for the design and manufacturing of those collected objects.”
Moving Beyond CAD Software
The idea of expanding design tools beyond CAD is a recognition of the reality that Big Data provides the power to put a wide range of design tasks at the fingertips of the design engineer. The design is now more than just an object; it’s a digitized design and manufacturing process that includes everything from simulation to robot configurations on the shop floor. “The world is moving into the age of the platform. To stay competitive, we have to break the mold of make-and-fit and work in a collaborative way,” said Bassi. “We will be partnering with other companies to make it easy to design collected objects.”
The fully digitized idea is to make manufacturing an extension of the design process. In the past, the design engineer needed to be cognizant of manufacturing constraints. In the digitized vision, manufacturing is part of the design process. “We need total digitization from