Look more closely at this 1962 Volkswagen bus, made by Volkswagen and augmented by Autodesk: the wheel rims, steering wheel, wing mirror
mounts, and other bits are 3D-printed metal. And, rather than being mocked up first in AutoCAD, they’re designed automatically in software in a process called ‘generative design’.
Generative design, like declarative programming, is design worked backwards. Instead of drawing up a plan, then building the project, you start with a set of constraints, and get the software to generate the form that you need.
“In the past, if you’ve designed, let’s say, a vehicle rim, if you’re going to design one of those, in the very far past, you had to basically sketch it by hand”, says Erik Glaser, Principal Product Designer, Volkswagen Group of America. “You had a draughtsman who had to draw the whole thing out – very long process, very tedious.