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Accelerating the pace of innovation – Aerospace Manufacturing

In a Q&A session, Lin Kayser, co-founder & CEO of AI-powered design software specialist, Hyperganic explains how the company enables the development of algorithms which – based on manually inputted descriptions – create highly functional parts, structures and machines in a quick and automated way.
Hyperganic builds software that designs objects as complex, functional, elegant and sustainable as nature. The company says its algorithms generate parts, structures and entire machines through a process of digital evolution.
Last June, Hyperganic launched the first public version of its Hyperganic Core platform, and companies and individuals can now apply for access and start to add Algorithmic Engineering to their domain. Back in April, the company acquired the simulation specialists, DirectFEM and added their capabilities to its portfolio to complete the design workflow.
In May, Hyperganic announced an exclusive partnership with EOS to advance the field of space propulsion. And at the RAPID + TCT 2022 event in Detroit, the company showcased the first fruits of the collaboration – the largest Aerospike rocket engine ever 3D-printed, and also the most complex AM part ever created.
Q) Firstly, what are the types of demands placed on you by today’s aerospace designers?
Today, engineers create designs for complex space and aviation hardware using manual CAD tools. These tools were designed for a world where manufacturing constraints put a limit to the sophistication and complexity of the objects they designed. With additive manufacturing (AM), many of these constraints have been eliminated. However, the design tools have not evolved at the same pace – until now. With Hyperganic Core, we are introducing a new paradigm to engineering and we call it Algorithmic Engineering.
In Algorithmic Engineering, an engineer encodes their knowledge of the design process into computer algorithms. These algorithms can create numerous new designs in a matter of minutes, versus the weeks and months that it usually takes to complete a new design iteration using CAD tools. Hyperganic Core was specifically designed for the world of AM and relies on a proprietary geometry kernel that allows us to address every particle which a printer can output, using a voxel-based data model.
By moving engineering under a software paradigm, you only need to solve the challenges once, and you can then re-use the solution without having to start the process all over again. In traditional CAD, re-use is very limited and that is why most engineers are literally busy reinventing the wheel.
Q) What are customers looking for in terms of AM-related solutions?
Engineers always get asked to ‘design for AM’. But how do you do that with tools that were created for a world of subtractive manufacturing, where objects are relatively simple? So, engineers are looking for a way to take advantage of the full power of AM, but with a lot less human labour. Today’s complex AM parts involve a lot of manual work, so it is important to automate a large part of it and re-use solutions that were created by others. Almost every engineering company is desperately trying to hire more engineers. It is imperative to give ‘superpowers’ to the existing engineers. How? Once you have created an IP module on Hyperganic Core, you can re-run the process without any manual involvement of the engineer. Essentially, you are scaling with the amount of computing power and not with the amount of human labour. This frees up the engineers to work on other new solutions.
Q) How mature is the current additive manufacturing supply chain?
It has evolved quite rapidly, partly because of the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we still have a long way to go. Every 3D printer manufacturer is working on the industrialisation of their processes. But the reality is, an AM factory today is still mostly a boutique operation with a lot of manual processes involved.
There is still a lot of work to be done if we want to move to a more resilient and reliable AM-based supply chain. But everyone now sees the need to do so, so I have no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated it.
Q) Are mergers & acquisitions a healthy thing or a threat for the AM industry?
We believe M&As are not only healthy, but necessary for the industry. They enable seamless accumulation, and synergy, of different knowledge within the industry. That, in turn, makes the workflow smoother and complete. For instance, Hyperganic recently acquired DirectFEM, a simulation company, to offer the complete engineering workflow in-house. That means our customers can start and complete the entire design process, up to the manufacturing point, with us.
Q) What kind of industry landscape is Hyperganic Core promoting?
Our mission is to accelerate the pace of innovation by elevating the role of designers and engineers to become an Algorithmic Engineer. Our Hyperganic Core platform frees up their time so that they can focus on making high-impact decisions to help computer-generated objects achieve the physical properties demanded by the challenges they are solving. We are digitising human knowledge on how we build things and enabling the software to design the object in new and surprising ways. Let us get smarter about the way we build things because we now have the capability to do that.
Q) Finally, what differentiates your company from the competition?
Hyperganic is uniquely positioned in a market where our Algorithmic Engineering technology is unrivalled. We are solving an engineering challenge that no one has been able to solve. That is a powerful proposition to customers because for the first time in human history, we can build objects that approach the complexity of nature — by designing them using AI and computer algorithms, and at a speed that makes iterations possible in minutes.
Mike Richardson
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