Autodesk University 2022 kicked off on September 27th in New Orleans. Our Senior Analyst, Arvind Krishnan attended the event. At the event, Andrew Anagnost, CEO of Autodesk, shared his vision for the future. The following are the takeaways and observations that Arvind had throughout the event. 

Autodesk Fusion Cloud Platform for Design and Manufacturing

Andrew Anagnost, CEO of Autodesk, unveiled Autodesk Fusion, industry cloud for design and manufacturing. Fusion’s counterparts in AEC and M&E will be named Autodesk Forma and Autodesk Flow, respectively. Fusion will be the complete product development cloud platform that connects product development data to people and processes. Along with Forma and Flow, Fusion will be supported by Autodesk Platform Services, a set of APIs and services across all Autodesk platforms. 

This development is interesting for Autodesk users because they now have the flexibility to use the tools of their choice to perform individual tasks but still tap into the Fusion platform to organize, collaborate, and plan their product development. Designers and engineers can design products with Fusion 360, Inventor, or AutoCAD, depending on the complexity of their tasks. The same applies to simulation, computer-aided manufacturing, or additive manufacturing. 

To make it more interesting, companies can use Autodesk Platform Services to develop custom solutions to drive their product development further. Many more solution partner tools for Fusion will likely emerge in the future, presenting Autodesk users with more solutions to speed up their product development. 

Fusion will still manage the associated data and processes. How can Fusion do that? The central data model is the key. Fusion maintains a central data model on the cloud and provides every development stakeholder with the necessary (and latest) data. After every iteration of the data, Fusion updates the information for everyone. And, since it is all done on the cloud, the entire process is seamless.

Autodesk Partners with ANSYS to Introduce Signal Integrity Functionality

Why is signal integrity important for engineers who develop smart-connected products using Autodesk Fusion 360?

When PCB designers create their boards, they lay out the different electronic components in the board and connect them with traces. They can do this within Fusion 360 using the PCB design tools. But today’s connected products contain PCBs with complex electronics. For the proper functioning of the PCB, the signal that is transferred between the components must not be affected by the other members of the printed circuit board. 

The industry refers to these PCB design applications as high-speed PCB design. Sizing and routing of traces, what components they connect, and their proximity to other signals become even more critical in high-speed PCB design. So it is not enough for a designer to arrange the various electronics and connect them. If not appropriately addressed, the product will experience signal integrity issues. In simple terms, the device will not work correctly.

Fortunately, PCB designers can now address signal integrity issues using the integrated Fusion 360 signal integrity extension, which is powered by ANSYS technology. This is where the partnership between Autodesk and ANSYS comes into play. 

Jeff Kinder announced this new extension at Autodesk University 2022. Fusion 360 users can compute the impedance in different parts of their PCB using this extension. As designers modify their PCB design, the impedances are recomputed. Since everything is managed inside Fusion 360, PCB designers can address signal integrity issues without leaving their Fusion 360 design environment.  

As products get more complex, PCB designers must address signal integrity issues in their designs, and Fusion 360 gives them the tools to address these issues. But signal integrity is not the only problem in high-speed PCB design. Engineers must design products that meet other electromagnetic compliance requirements. This is where the partnership between Autodesk and ANSYS becomes relevant. PCB engineers can directly transfer their PCB designs from Fusion 360 to high-fidelity ANSYS solutions and ensure that their products meet all electromagnetic requirements. Thanks to Fusion’s open data and access to APIs, we will see many more of these strategic partnerships, which is good for the engineering community.

The Growing Popularity of Generative Design

Since its introduction, generative design in Fusion 360 has captured the attention of designers and engineers. For the physics, they were able to use structural simulation in Fusion to generate the designs. Recently, Fusion 360 allows users to generate designs using fluid flow simulation. With this added functionality, generative design in Fusion 360 gets more powerful. 

What fascinates me is what we could see in the future. Fusion 360 will be able to attack applications ranging from aerodynamics to cable harnessing to injection molding. Aerodynamic shapes are essential for products that must have minimal drag forces. Soon, engineers will use generative design to model the exterior of drones, airplanes, cars, and underwater vehicles. Generative design becomes more powerful when it can extend across multiple engineering domains. Soon, generative design will power the placement of electronics and aid designers in designing PCBs. Engineers will be able to create plastic components that can be injection molded or 3D printed. Autodesk and its partners already have the necessary underlying technology to support the evolution of generative design and Fusion 360 product leaders have a strong willingness to expand its generative design capabilities.