MIT’s Computer Science and AI Lab has just introduced a new computer aided design software that could revolutionise the way we design 3D models for functional vehicles and aircrafts. InstantCAD is a marvellous plug-in application that lets users control the specific geometries of the models they are dealing with. It is a means of simplifying the design process by allowing users to optimise models in real time.
Additionally, InstantCAD allows users to test various factors like heat distribution, weight distribution and wind drag. This makes it an ideal tool for practical builds for automobile, aerospace and various other industries. The researchers claim that the software integrates seamlessly with existing CAD programs as a plug-in.
The researchers published their findings in a paper called “Interactive Design Space Exploration and Optimization for CAD Models”. PhD students Adriana Schulz and Jie Xu along with postdoctoral associate Bo Zhu, associate professor Eitan Grinspun and assistant professor at Columbia U Changxi Zheng all co-authored this paper together.
How Does InstantCAD work?
InstantCAD operates on a cloud platform. This allows the plug-in to operate in real-time where multiple different geometric evaluations and simulations are run simultaneously. As a result, it can constantly give feedback to the user and is not constrained by slow data processing. While other software often have to produce simulations and regenerate the design after data has been entered, InstantCAD can process all value changes instantly and process the model as it goes along, taking in all the relevant values (as opposed to processing various parameters and having to run tests to see if it matches the desired result).
Another great thing about InstantCAD is that it has 2 modes depending on user preference. Interactive exploration allows users to alter their designs in real time and receive feedback from the machine, whereas automatic optimisation simply finds the best output for every design. With automatic optimisation they can decide the design parameters (light-weight, low drag etc.) and have the system come out with the optimal response. These modes give the user customisability and control over design depending on what they desire.
InstantCAD cannot process all the design options simultaneously, so the researchers created a brand new algorithm to get around this issue. “It’s too data-intensive to compute every single point, so we have to come up with a way to predict any point in this space from just a small number of sampled data points,” says Adriana Schulz. “This is called ‘interpolation,’ and our key technical contribution is a new algorithm we developed to take these samples and estimate points in the space.”
3D Printing Using Software & Cloud Databases
While the idea of a software using cloud computing is relatively new, it has been done before. Although, this may well be the most well-realised version of these types of software we’ve seen yet. Previously, we covered Thrinno’s cloud database software for calculating costs and sharing info with clients.
We’ve also talked about 3D Generative Adversarial Networks and how they help create models out of 2D images. 3D GAN softwares play off adversarial, competing computers to produce 3D models with accuracy. It generates the basic shapes out of 2D pictures and allows users to tinker with them. It also allows users to approximate mixtures between two very different objects.
Similarly, there are software for properly imitating interlocking furniture and the physics of cloth. These are all various technologies meant to aid in the manufacturing of goods. They are making it so that the designer can be well-equipped to design, print and simulate their own projects. These software can help create designs economically and quickly. It’s only a matter of time before they become a staple of the modern manufacturing wave.