Towards a Singularity in Manufacturing

The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is a celebration of human creativity — but it required a lot of manual work to realize the design. (Author’s photo)

Ray Kurzweil famously coined the term “Singularity” in his 2005 book.

Everywhere we look, his predictions are coming true at an amazing pace.

There is one area, though, where progress is blocked by the rigid workflows that we humans built over the course of the last centuries: In the design and construction of complex machinery.

If you took a civil engineer from ancient Rome and brought him to a modern architectural studio, he would be overwhelmed by how far we have come. But I would guess he would relatively quickly understand how the plans he used to draw on parchment are now available in a computer system. Leonardo da Vinci would probably feel quite comfortable using modern Computer Aided Design tools.

Because, for all of their power, the underlying process did not change as dramatically as we often think. These are tools that evolved from pen and paper — and it shows. Engineers still rely on their training and knowledge to come up with good designs, which they then convert more or less manually to a model, using computerized drawing tools.

It’s time to move engineering and the creation of physical objects to the next level and bring it in lockstep with the awesome advances in computing we have seen in past decades.

As engineers, designers, architects: we all need to move to a more abstract level. A level, where we describe intent — and then leave the design of the actual construction to the computer. Software will then iterate thousands or millions of times to create a perfect solution through a process of digital evolution.

Using Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), we are now capable of creating objects of unprecedented complexity. The time is ripe to finally move away from construction paradigms based on pen and paper.

This will move Manufacturing under Moore’s Law and catapult us to the next level in machinery.

I can’t wait to see this happen.

— — — —

Lin Kayser is the CEO of Munich-based Hyperganic, where he and his team are reinventing how we design and engineer objects in an age of digital manufacturing and synthetic biology.

— — — —

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on March 29, 2018