Atkinson, Paul, Unver, Ertu, Marshall, Justin and Dean, Lionel Theodore (2008) Post Industrial Manufacturing Systems: the undisciplined nature of generative design. In: Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference 2008. Sheffield Hallam University, 194/1-194/17. ISBN 9781843872931

Post Industrial Manufacturing Systems (PIMS) is a research program with the overarching aim
to explore the impact of emerging technologies in Rapid Prototyping, Direct Digital
Manufacture, Parametric Modelling and Generative Design software on the design process.
The initial research project within PIMS involved an industrial designer working with a CAD
programming expert in developing a software system that allowed the user to view various
products or designed forms, which were continually randomly mutating in real time. The user
could not affect the form itself or the mutation in any way, but could decide at which
moment they wanted to ‘freeze’ the constantly changing form to create a unique, one-off
item. The user could then purchase the product, at which point the relevant stl files were
created by the computer and exported to a rapid prototyping machine to be manufactured.
As this work progressed, various approaches were tried, including the random placement of
a selection of predetermined elements within specified space envelopes. At this point, a
second project was started involving a craft practitioner with the express notion of exploring
the differences in approach between practitioners of different disciplines. This work has
produced a system in which individual building block units are randomly assembled together
within three-dimensional mesh forms that can be manipulated in various ways. When the
process is complete the resulting object can be digitally manufactured.
This paper will describe these different approaches to random generative design and discuss
the implications for the disciplines of design and craft, their interpretation and meaning
raised by this research. The experience of using these systems potentially opens the
floodgates for amateur design and craft in ways previously unimagined. Developments such
as these are clearly harbingers of a new era for design and craft and an example of the
reshaping of disciplines.

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