Live Parts is a software application from Desktop Metal that makes it easy to go from complex constraints and loading conditions to optimized, manufacturing-ready models in a matter of minutes. It uses a new approach to generative design that seeks to implement, in software, how organisms grow in nature - from seeds, to emerging embryos, to fully mature organisms. This approach, call Growth-Based Design (GBD), is linked more closely to computation biology than to FEM mechanical analysis techniques used in traditional generative design tools such as topology optimization.
At a fundamental level, this difference manifests as GBD follows an "additive" design process, beginning with one or several seed cells, while topology and lattice optimization tools follow a "subtractive" design process which starts with a fully-formed part or design space. However, the differences go beyond this simple comparison between additive and subtractive design processes. GBD in Live Parts aims to model organisms using system of cells. Within a system, both the aggregate set of cells and each individual cell can change over time. This cell-based architecture drives the GBD process in Live Parts - as an example, cells that accumulate a strain property over time induce further cell addition while cells that have low strain are eventually removed. Live Parts uses different properties - or "chemicals" - to induce different types of growth (e.g. to minimize internal support structures for designs to be 3D printed) that all seek to maximize the performance of the design while minimizing material use and satisfying all design objectives.
This stands apart form topology optimization tools, which rely primarily on finite element modeling (FEM) analysis to discretize a part into elements and then iteratively removes selected elements until it satisfies design objectives.
The benefits of Live Parts relative to traditional topology optimization tools include:
- Performance. Live Parts leverages GPUs for cell operations, so you can get optimized, complex designs in minutes. Additionally, because Live Parts adds cells to a design only as needed, it significantly reducing memory consumption and minimizes downtime due to stalled or crashed software.
- Interactivity. Live Parts delivers real-time generative performance, allowing you to adjust parameters during the growth process and witness the designs adapt in real-time as Live Parts optimizes for new constraints and loads.
- Geometry. Live Parts automatically converts designs from a cell mesh to smooth, ready to manufacture solid body geometry - allowing users to print directly or import into existing CAD assemblies without any remodeling.
Check out this article to learn more about the Live Parts process.