The role of AI in design workflows


It’s everywhere: Online, at the airport, in your pocket, and even in your car. Artificial Intelligence and its role in our workflow is revolutionizing our design processes. It is fascinating but also leaves us with questions about our future work methods.

Let’s have a look at the role of AI in design workflows and how its transforming the design processes.

So far, we’ve seen fascinating applications of generative AI in creative fields, for example with Midjourney AI.

A tool that can generate entire images from text prompts and create visuals based on user input.

Source: Midjourney Image Prompts)

Currently, there isn’t a similar tool for 3D design, but it’s likely to arrive soon with the evolvement happening.

Does that mean AI will replace all designers?

No, it won’t. Creative minds will always be essential for combining technologies to develop new solutions. AI will remain a tool, much like extrusions, revolves, simulations, and PDM.

We are already seeing the first glimpses of AI in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. XDesign includes AI features, such as the Design Assistant, which uses machine learning to understand user workflows, streamline processes, and reduce repetition. The Design Assistant offers four powerful tools: Selection helper, Sketch helper, Mate Helper, Smart mate.

The more you use the Design Assistant, the better it learns your working habits. By starting to use these tools sooner and more frequently, they will become more efficient and tailored to your specific workflow.

Let’s look at the four tools in Design Assistant and how it adds to the role of AI in design workflows.

Selection helper

This tool automatically suggests similar edges and features that the user might want to select next, such as fillets or other similar edges, saving time in the process. The user selects an edge, and the Design Assistant identifies other similar edges. Users can then deselect any unnecessary suggestions if needed.

Sketch helper

It automatically inserts sketch features in similar locations recognized by AI while allowing the user to maintain control over the features included. For instance, if you sketch a hole in a flange, the Sketch Helper suggests other potential locations for additional holes. The user can then decide which suggestions to keep or discard, ensuring precise and efficient design adjustments.

Mate helper

Similarly to the Sketch Helper, the Mate Helper works in a comparable way. It assists users in mating components to corresponding positions. You place the first component in its desired location, and the Mate Helper automatically positions additional components in similar locations. For example, this feature is useful for fastening various types of plates to another component.

Here is Mate Helper in action. If you position one bolt, the rest of the bolts are positioned automatically.

Smart mate

Smart Mate will automatically position components when the user drags them near their final location. It simultaneously adds the necessary mates to the component. This feature is particularly useful when inserting fasteners.

Future AI-Driven Tools for SOLIDWORKS Users

At 3DEXPERIENCE World, SOLIDWORKS CEO Manish Kumar provided a glimpse into upcoming features. Instead of navigating through tabs to find the right tool, SOLIDWORKS will soon suggest the next tools to use, streamlining the process from ideas to reality. Turning ideas into 3D models will be easier with AI recognizing objects from images and converting them into sketches.

Kumar highlighted that in the future, AI could significantly speed up the creation of drawings, which are already standardized. Designers could request a drawing based on a 3D model, and it would be automatically created and stored on the 3DExperience platform, accessible from any device. While manual adjustments will still be possible, designers will retain control, with AI handling repetitive tasks.

Kumar’s presentation also showcased the platform’s capability for “what if” analyses using AI. For example, if raw material prices increase, AI can evaluate the impact on manufacturing costs and identify the most affected components, making it easier to implement corrective actions and adjust design choices accordingly.

Streamlining with AI

The integration of AI in design processes aims to enhance, not replace, designers’ capabilities. This collaborative relationship allows AI to handle mundane and repetitive tasks, streamlining and optimizing the workflow.

As a result, designers can shift their focus from routine operations to areas that truly require human intuition and creativity. The fusion of human creativity and AI’s analytical prowess promises to produce designs that are both highly efficient and deeply attuned to user needs and contextual nuances.