Autodesk University (AU) 2014 was held in Las Vegas, December 2-4, at the conference center of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Featuring 793 classes, 822 speakers, and 183 exhibitors, AU 2014 offered seminars, training sessions, and activities for several key industries, including architecture, infrastructure, automotive manufacturing, education, construction, and reality computing. Here is a wrap-up of this year's Autodesk University, along with the key takeaways of the event.
Autodesk is Now Free to Educators and Students
Autodesk earns around $2 million USD on education licensing each year, but is now making their products free to all schools, teachers, and students, according to Autodesk president and CEO Carl Bass. While the gesture does have a philanthropic result, it's not entirely generosity driving this decision. If a large majority of students receive their CAD training on Autodesk products, there will be a larger market for the products in the future due to simple brand loyalty. This educational initiative is offered to schools around the world.
Autodesk Now Offers Open Source 3D Printers and Software
Autodesk is also attempting to dominate the market via open source code software and printers. This initiative began with the Spark Investment Fund, which offered $150 million USD to entrepreneurs, new companies, and researchers who were pushing 3D printing technology to its outer limits. Later, Autodesk furthered this program by announcing Spark, its first open source 3D printing software.
At AU 2014, Autodesk unveiled the Ember 3D printer, an open source printer for which Autodesk is offering the design specs to anyone who wishes to develop a new 3D printer based on Autodesk's designs. Bass announced that this initiative was intended to show how integrated hardware and software could benefit the 3D printing process. Currently, as many as 75 percent of all 3D printed designs are failures. With open source code hardware and software, Autodesk hopes that new ways of doing things can be developed to improve the success rate of 3D printed products.
The Cloud is Becoming More Crucial to the 3D Printing Industry
Autodesk was the first 3D software company to offer cloud-based support. Now, Autodesk is improving their cloud offerings, hoping that the move away from expensive perpetual licensing opens the doors to 3D printing for smaller companies, startups, and those without the resources to support hefty licensing fees.
Generative Design is Now Becoming Available to Smaller Companies
Generative design is the concept of beginning with an intention for the design and exploring numerous solutions through a series of "generations" until the design is perfected. While generative design isn't new to the industry, it's usually been the property of those working for governments or large enterprises with access to sizeable databases or research institutes. Now that more cloud resources are available to designers along with HPC (high performance computer) centers, Autodesk hopes that the concept of generative design can be employed by smaller companies and startups to advance the industry as a whole. When designers no longer have to start from scratch with each design, 3D printing designs can improve more and improve faster.
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