Technology and AI in the design process

The world of design and, specifically industrial design, has used advanced technologies and software for years to help in the product design process; from conceptualization to manufacturing.

Different tests of consoles and desktops generated from scratch with Midjourney in question were seconds using different “Prompts”

Photorealistic renders that simulate materials, lights and other properties of our real environment in a virtual world. Physical simulations (finite element analysis software) to know the resistance of a part before manufacturing it or how air flows would behave in the air conditioning of a data center (computational fluid mechanics).

Simulations of manufacturing processes, such as machining, are previously carried out in software before actual manufacturing (CAM, Computer-aided manufacturing; CAE, Computer-aided engineering) and in its most basic version the use of parametric programs (Autodesk Inventor , CATIA) allow the 3D design of all components for future manufacturing.

In short, designers, engineers and architects are more than familiar with this type of technology.

One of the latest technologies introduced in product design is Generative Design, where some of the aforementioned are brought together to propose different design alternatives based on parameters defined by the designer or engineer, thus allowing the selection between dozens or hundreds of software-generated options in minutes. They even offer design options so complex (organic shapes, lattices, etc.) that it would require days of work to model just one of these options. This technology is really useful to optimize designs, for example seeking maximum resistance with minimum weight for a part or to generate complex organic geometries that imitate nature (Biomimetics).

The main advantage of Generative Design is that the designer can choose between multiple options that meet the defined requirements; even improve designs by changing material, lightness or resistance and focusing only on the aspects that interest you most, freeing up time for more creative aspects.

The hype of AI in design

The world of product design already had many software tools that helped design, especially in development phases, but in recent years AI tools have become popular that can help in the most creative phases.

Image generators: Although we must keep in mind that we are in the very early stages of these technologies, today they offer enormous potential for design. The ability to generate photorealistic and/or complex images from scratch based solely on descriptions, or even other reference images, is truly spectacular and can save many hours of work by allowing ideas and concepts to be visualized in seconds. Thus being able to carry out many more tests or experiment with innovative concepts simply because it requires little effort and time.

Images of meeting tables generated from scratch with Midjourney in question in seconds using different “Prompts”

In our experience, it can work well with very popular objects or concepts (since it is based on images already created previously), but when you need to design an object or generate a less “popular” or common idea, such as control consoles, or apply very specific design concepts, manufacturing details and materials (tubular structure, union between pieces, etc.) the results usually do not reach the desired expectations and in many cases are not even technically viable or usable.

On the other hand, there are other more specific software such as Vizcom or Veras for Revit that can be much more useful. For example, Vizcom transforms simple sketches into realistic images or renders with a simple description (Prompt).

Images generated from a sketch with Vizcom software using different “Prompts”

Following the same model, Veras uses basic 3D modeled volumes to generate renders in seconds. The big difference in these cases is that the designer can control the result much better through a basic 3D drawing or model, maintaining proportions, geometry and specific shapes until obtaining realistic images without investing a lot of time.

Although software with AI such as Vizcom can be useful in creative phases of design, precisely because of the technology they use, which is based on the analysis of millions of images, videos, texts and existing data, they tend to generate results that are not very innovative.

The enormous potential of advanced technology in the design process is evident. Designers, engineers and architects have been using this type of tools with great success for decades in applications primarily focused on optimizing and facilitating development and manufacturing processes.

The popularization of AI tools applied to design, for the moment, where it seems to have the greatest potential is in the exploratory phases with the aim of testing ideas and concepts in an agile way, as well as to gain inspiration for future more elaborate designs, since by The moment they work well with popular products and ideas, although they do not have the level of detail and creativity that the designs of new original products require or simply that they work at a technical level (feasibility of manufacture, use, etc.).

Tools with AI provide us with new ways to generate and test ideas in an agile way, allowing us to focus time and resources on aspects where we add more value to the design. Without a doubt, they are tools that will have an exponential evolution in a short time and at GESAB we will be attentive to apply the latest technology in our designs.

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