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GM Uses Advanced Software, 3D Printing to Make Kinda Creepy-Looking Lightweight Parts

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General Motors and Bay Area-based software company Autodesk have teamed up over the course of a few years in a high-powered partnership, and today proudly have revealed the first fruits of their labor.


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General Motors next-gen 3D printed lightweighting seat bracket proof of concept

Photo: ©General Motors3

Ok, so what that above thingamabob, which looks disturbingly sinew-like for a steel object, is actually a new seat bracket, which GM 3D printed using generative software from Autodesk. The software used cloud computing and AI algorithms to quickly drum up several possible parts designs (which, the company admits, are often organic-looking) based on goals like weight, strength, material, fabrication method, etc. Then, all GM had to do was pick one.

The reason that GM is excited about this (besides it just being pretty cool to print out car parts) is that this greatly simplifies making vehicle components and allows the company to turn multiple-piece components into one single part.

Take the above seat bracket, for example (I mean, GM did make it as a proof of concept so after all that work it only seems polite). Originally, the seat bracket was eight different parts all bolted together. Now, though, the bracket is one piece and 40% lighter. Plus, as an extra bonus, it is 20% stronger than the previous conglomeration.

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GM and Autodesk vehicle component designing

“Generative design is the future of manufacturing,” said Scott Reese, Autodesk Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Construction Products, “and GM is a pioneer in using it to lightweight their future vehicles. Generative technologies fundamentally change how engineering work is done because the manufacturing process is built into design options from the start. GM engineers will be able to explore hundreds of ready-to-be-manufactured, high-performance design options faster than they were able to validate a single design the old way.”

In the future, GM plans to use this across it vehicle designs, removing unnecessary part mass and complexity for lighter, more efficient vehicles, a plan that will likely be especially beneficial for the brand’s future electric vehicles.

News Sources: GM, Reuters