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With the advent of smarter design tools, along with prefabricated housing, the design process has huge opportunity to evolve, like industrial manufacturing has. Designers have new capabilities with digital tools, along with an industry more open to change.

For years, advanced design and manufacturing technology was mostly in the hands of the very largest companies—from GM and GE to Boeing and PG. That’s changed remarkably over the last five years. We’re continued advances in industrial technology but, more to the point, we’re seeing the democratization of that technology.

The proliferation of design and manufacturing technology is beginning to change the nature of what it means to be a design engineer. “The future we’re making is affected by all of the trends that are happening. In past years, design engineers were constrained by the manufacturing process,” Stephen Hooper, VP and general manager for Fusion 360 at Autodesk, said at the Autodesk Accelerate conference. “As a designer, you had a lot of ideas, but you were constrained by manufacturing technology. That’s changed.”

Hooper pointed to three major changes that have affected the future of industrial design:
1.) The convergence of design and manufacturing
2.) The overall connectivity that spans all areas of product development—from design concepts through development, manufacturing, the supply chain, and even to the customer
3.) The changes in the nature of object design brought about by generative design

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