A part optimised for 3D printing with Generate.
An innovative software start-up called Frustum is simplifying the process of design optimisation in 3D printing using a geometry kernel.
Frustum developed the kernel to solve the problem of combining free-form shapes with math-based geometry found in Computer Aided Design (CAD). The process is conducted without a dedicated design software or even knowledge of how this optimisation is performed, but Frustum believe it will make 3D design optimisation significantly easier.
CEO Jesse Blankenship founded the company three years ago as a result of his research from his time at Columbia and Cornell Universities and working with Airbus and Autodesk. Blankenship was the lead optimisation engineer with Autodesk as its partner, Airbus, initiated some additive manufacturing projects with the software developer.
“At the time, I just really felt that there was a deficit in what was really needed in the market for functional generative design,” Blankenship said. “There was not really a strong large corporate effort to solve those problems or market how those problems could be solved in the future. So, what I really sought to do was create a company that would pioneer the technology for functional generative design, mainly to try to simplify the design and implementation of very complex geometries for 3D printing and additive manufacturing and for design optimisation.”
Upon developing the geometry kernel, Frustum used Generate, a cloud-based design tool, to bring it to market. Generate, available online for free or with paid add-ons, is capable of transforming traditional CAD models into a geometry optimised for 3D printing. With this design tool, STEP files are uploaded into the software. The user then chooses faces on the CAD model and inputs the amount of load that the face will be subject to and the preferred weight reduction.
Frustum Generate 2
A Generate-optimised part
Generate uses finite element analysis and the company’s voxel-based design algorithm to remove large chunks of a model that are not considered vital. This leaves an organic shape that weighs less but can still perform the basic function of the part that preceded it.
Topology optimisation of this kind has been utilised before in the reduction of aircraft weight. Blankenship’s former employees, Airbus and Autodesk are currently considering 3D printing aeroplane cabin dividers made up of unique topologies which will reduce weight and CO2 emissions.
Generate can produce a series of 3D models that meet the designer’s needs once the parameters have been set. These parameters are also easily changeable, which helps to generate further designs. This whole process takes place in the cloud, meaning although Generate is working, no space is being used in the designer’s computer.
Blankenship expects the topology optimisation tool to go from strength to strength. He already sees Frustum implementing new tools with the software by next year and also believes the tool will also be able to optimise parts for such manufacturing processes as CNC machining. The geometry kernel can also expect to see more fields outside of additive manufacturing.
“I’d say we’re very focused on the additive manufacturing side, but we do see our geometry kernel having usefulness across a lot of different types of products,” Blankenship added. “We’re also very interested to see how our geometry kernel can grow out of aerospace and into other engineering applications. We see our technology being very useful in the design of sneakers, tennis rackets, automotive parts and medical applications.”
Siemens Venture Capital, who invested in the start-up, has already been impressed with the product.