Research at Autodesk University 2015

For those attending Autodesk University this year in Las Vegas, Autodesk Research will have a booth in the “Central Park” section of the Exhibit Hall where we’ll be showcasing a number of exciting projects.  

Autodesk University 2015

The projects represented at this year’s conference will include:

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015


The Bio/Nano Research group will be showing the current status of their research on how to fold DNA to create functional nanostructures as well as how to grow artificial bones.


Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015


Project Dreamcatcher will be exhibiting a number of generatively designed artifacts, such as the Optima Bow made by Pier 9 Artist-in-Residence John Briscella of Aminimal Studio, bicycles and motorcycle swingarms.

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015



The Design and Fabricaction group will be showing Meshmixer and how it is used to 3D print functional parts and body-fitting prosthetics. 

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015


Autodesk Within Medical, which allows implant designers to create porous coatings to aid bone and implant fusion (ie. osseointergration), will be displaying a number of their 3D printed medical components and explaining how their technology works. 



AU 2015 Map to Autodesk Researc
When you enter Sands Hall B & C, just walk to the Central Park and Autodesk Research will be on the right!

In addition to the booth, look for the Hive Project near the Exhibit Hall where Autodesk University attendees will build an architectural scale pavilion guided by human/robot interaction.

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015

A number of team members will be giving talks at AU:


Composite Materials and Manufacturing Processes for Automotive Applications

Tuesday, Dec 1, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM, Location: Zeno 4701, Level 4

Massimiliano Moruzzi discusses composite applications in the automotive marketplace.


Automated Composite Manufacturing

Tuesday, Dec 1, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM, Location: Marcello 4401a, Level 4

Massimiliano Moruzzi presents an end-to-end solution for the automated composite manufacturing process. This class will cover advanced lay-up design strategies such as fiber placement, tape layering, and robotics lay-up which are utilized when programming automatic material layup equipment. High composite production rates will be covered through automated robotic material nesting and taping.


Cultivating Innovation and Developing Intrapreneurs

Wednesday, Dec 2, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, Location: Zeno 4704, Level 4

Cory Mogk will be doing a talk on Cultivating Innovation and Developing Intrapreneurs that uses the tools from the Innovation Workshop. This class will talk about how Autodesk is helping intrapreneurs develop their ideas and we’ll provide tools and guidance that attendees can use on their own or in their organizations. 


Composite Manufacturing Solution for Optimum Material Nesting and Ply Layup

Thursday, Dec 3, 2:45 PM - 4:00 PM, Location: San Polo 3405, Level 3

Massimiliano Moruzzi will lead this two-part class where attendees will utilize Autodesk TruNest Composites to show the complete process from import to nesting to NC part cutting of ply materials. Special focus will be given to optimal nesting for efficient material usage. During the second half, we will utilize Autodesk TruLaser to perform laser projection for showing composite ply lay-up.


Once again, the Design Research team will be conducting user research sessions. This year’s focus will be on collecting feedback for Within and Dreamcatcher.  Look for the OCTO Airstream in the AU registration area.

  Autodesk Research Astronaut

We hope you’ll make some time to come by and meet some of the team. 



Introducing the Wet Lab Accelerator - Your Robotic Lab Assistant

If you work in a wet lab and need an assistant you should try out the Wet Lab Accelerator! The Wet Lab Accelerator is a tool for researchers working in synthetic biology and virology. The Bio/Nano group at Autodesk Research is developing this tool in conjunction with their experiments and is sharing it with others in the community for testing and feedback.

Autodesk Research Wet Lab Accelerator

Working with an automated wet lab, like Transcriptic, it allows you to:

  • Design your robotic wet lab protocols using a visual UI — no coding or scripting required.
  • Start from scratch or use one of our templates to get started.
  • When you are ready to run your protocol, Wet Lab Accelerator generates the vendor-specific code and verifies it
  • Any issues are clearly highlighted so you can quickly find and correct them.
  • Seamlessly integrated with Transcriptic, our first automation partner, with more to come.
  • Set up each step of your protocol using graphical visualizations of your wet lab containers.
  • Often-used settings can be parameterized to ease running of variations on the same protocol
  • Interact with your results data through dynamic visualizations
Wet Lab Accelerator
The Wet Lab Accelerator has an easy-to-use UI that you can run from your web browser

If you like this tool, please share it with your friends and colleagues! You can also check out the Molecule Viewer for visualizing your data.


Autodesk releases the Molecule Viewer to Labs

Have you ever wanted to view molecules in high-fidelity from the comfort of your own web browser? Well now you can thanks to the Bio/Nano group at Autodesk Research

Autodesk Research Molecule Viewer

Merry Wang from the group explains that the Bio/Nano group is building on Autodesk's expertise as a toolmaker for designers of things like buildings, cars and roads. This group is making tools to design living things. They're starting with a tool to visualize complex data at the nanoscale.

 In the image below, you can see a sample of the viewer displaying a Recombinant Hemoglobin molecule.  

Autodesk Research Molecule Viewer Hemoglobin

Users of the Molecule Viewer can bring in their own custom data or draw from the RCSB Protein Data Bank (PDB). Here's a view of the Crystal Structure of Human Fibrogen.

Autodesk Research Molecule Viewer Human Fibrogen
Here's an alternate view but instead of looking at the structure in Ribbon mode, we are looking at a combination of Ball & Stick with Surface display. The highlighted portion starting at the top left is Chain B.

Autodesk Research Molecule Viewer Fibrogen

Each display mode has a number of options such as chain, residue and bfactor as you can see below in this view of Crystal Structure of the full-length Human RAGE Extracellular Domain (aka 4lp5) - the RCSB PDB Molecule of the Month of June.

Autodesk Research Molecule Viewer

The UI is nicely laid out and allows you to explore the Chains, Residues and Atoms of the molecule quickly and easily.

Autodesk Research Molecule Viewer

Sounds exciting, right? Head on over to Autodesk Labs and try it out! You can also check out the Wet Lab Accelerator for assistance in running your tests.


4D Printing: aka 3D Printing Self Evolving Structures

4D Printing adds the dimension of time to 3D Printing. Instead of printing stable and static objects, with multi-material printing we are starting to manufacture soft and active objects that can react to their environment. In our post on Synthetic Biology for Architects we talk about the potential of growing a house from a seed. In this post we'll talk about some of the steps being taken by the Autodesk Research Programmable Matter team to get there.

Other than growing a house, why else might you want a 3D printed object to change over time? 

Soft robotics and bio-inspired robotics are one popular reason. These soft machines inspired by nature are particularly interesting to medical science at smaller scales that can be applied within a body. Another reason might be that the object being manufactured is larger than the printer but it can be folded up.

With this research we are using the Nucleus Physics solver to help simulate the behaviour of the objects - they can bend and stretch.

Autodesk Research 4D PrintingThe objects are composed of bars and disks. The disks in the center act as stoppers. By adjusting the distances between the stoppers it is possible to set the final folding angle.

4d printing Autodesk Research

The magic of this process is the combination of two materials at printing time. We use a rigid plastic base and a material that expands upon exposure to water. The expanding material is a UV curable polymer that when exposed to water absorbs and creates a hydrogel with up to 200% of the original volume.

With this system we've been able to create a variety of shapes getting as complicated as this undulating grid pictured below.

4d printing Autodesk Research

In the video below you can see the objects change over time as they are immersed in water.

You can read more about this exciting project on the Autodesk Research site.


Hacking 3D Printed Cancer-Fighting Viruses

"I really wasn't expected to be called a Biohacker but I don't mind"

Autodesk Research Hacking 3d Printed Cancer Fighting Viruses

What a great way to start a presentation! Andrew Hessel is part of the Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter group at Autodesk Research and that is how he started his fascinating presentation at the WIRED2014 Conference. In his presentation, Andrew talks about how powerful cells are and how they form networks similar to LAN's (our organs and tissues) and WAN's (our bodies).

Human Cell Autodesk Research Wired
A human cell is the most powerful and complex machine in the known universe. It runs on sugar and lasts a long time.
Chromosomes Autodesk Research Wired
This is what the program looks like for our bio computers

From this foundation he goes on to share how the maker movement is coming to biology. Andrew's ultimate goal with his work is to bring down the price of drug discovery and make more medicine available to all.

Autodesk Makerspace Pier 9
Autodesk's Makerspace at Pier 9 in San Francisco
Autodesk Life Sciences Laboratory
Autodesk has a Life Sciences laboratory as part of the Makerspace at Pier 9
Autodesk Research Bio and DNA Printers
One can now 3D print cells and DNA

With the landscape set, Andrew begins to talk about fighting cancer with 3D printed viruses. You can create a really weak virus that our body can fight yet at the same time this virus can hack the cancer cells, using the cancer cells to create more viruses to kill the other cancer cells. We call these oncolytic viruses.

Autodesk Research Bioprinting
A synthetic virus designed on a computer and printed in the lab

Now that he has created a virus he will be working on a more specific cancer-fighting virus. You can watch the full video below and learn more about this important work.

At the beginning of the video, Andrew shows an interactive tool created by the Health Sciences group at the University of Utah to illustrate the scale at which he works. It is available to the public to learn from and explore.   


Pictures from Autodesk University 2014

Here are a couple pictures of things the Autodesk Research team is talking about at Autodesk University. There's one more chance to come by the booth and find out more today.

Autodesk Research at Autodesk University

Autodesk Research Bicycle Frame Autodesk University

Autodesk Research Draco Autodesk University

Autodesk Research Cyborg Autodesk University


Autodesk Research Motorcycle Swingarm Autodesk University

Hy-Fi by The Living at Autodesk University

Here's where you can find us on the Autodesk University Exhibit Floor. We'll be there from 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Autodesk Research at Autodesk University

Also spotted in the Registration Hall:

Autodesk Research Autodesk University

For those not at Autodesk University, feel free to hit us up with some questions here!

Autodesk Research at Biofabricate Conference

Autodesk is sponsoring the Biofabricate conference in New York on December 4, 2014. This is the world’s first summit dedicated to biofabrication for future industrial and consumer products. Biofabrication comprises highly disruptive technologies enabling design and manufacturing to intersect with the building blocks of life. Computers can now read and write with DNA. This is a world where bacteria, yeast, fungi, algae and mammalian cells grow and shape sustainable new materials.


The event aims to answer a number of questions, including:

  • What is biodesign and biofabrication?
  • What are the enabling technologies?

Carlos Olguin from the Autodesk Research Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter group will speak in the Engineering Nature session followed by Danil Nagy of The Living speaking in the Cultured Technology session.


What Does Synthetic Biology Mean to Architects?

The Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter group at Autodesk Research is working with biology at the nanoscale level, to programatically define new matter. This is called synthetic biology and they envision this science being applied to designing products, buildings and cities.  

What if you could design a building that would grow itself?

Here's a short portion of a TED Talk from Mitchell Joachim looking at the possibilities.

Mitchell sets an interesting vision here. Maybe a meat house is a little extreme but it is certainly interesting to think that you could program what the R value of the walls of a house are and then you just have to plant it, add water and wait. Doors could work in much the same way as muscles in our bodies. And maybe the facade would heal itself after extreme weather.

Is it scientifically possible that a building could grow itself? How would that work?

To understand the science behind how this could work, the following video is very helpful. Essentially, DNA can be used in much the same way as any other programming language. The field of genetic engineering adds more of what we typically think of from engineering to create synthetic biology. As one could design a computer and a software program, one could also design a chair that would grow itself - the chair has the computer and the software program as part of itself. 

The idea of growing plants on Mars to prepare it for human habitation is interesting. Even more so if the trees were houses. Maybe we send rockets with payloads of seeds. While the plants are growing, we could be finalizing the technology to get people to follow.

As the cost of synthetic biology drops the potential for innovation increases 

This may sound far-fetched but it is possible to order your custom designed DNA over the internet in a similar manner and for a similar price to buying books today. Consider OpenTrons, a Kickstarter project for a biotech liquid handling robot for $2000. The 20th century has been called the century of physics for all of our advancements in things like space travel. The 21st century is being called the century of biology and the dropping prices of this technology will help to fuel that.

A prime example of this comes from Autodesk's own Andrew Hessel who created and "3D printed" a virus in two weeks for $1000. Don't worry - the virus was designed to infect E. coli and is not harmful to humans. 

E. coli is a common and easy bacteria to work with. Cambridge University created E. chromi that changes color based on the presence of an environmental toxin. The University of Texas and UCSF created E. coliroid that responds to red light and acts like a camera.  

What does synthetic biology mean for architects and other designers?

With this vision and base on the science set, we can hear how Andrew Hessel sees this working. This interview was conducted by the popular architecture website Arch Daily. In this video, Andrew speaks to a number of things, including these questions on the future of design:

  • What role do architects play?
  • What could architecture learn from genetic engineering?
  • What is the future of the architect?
  • What is the future of cities?

To quickly answer the questions from above, architects have a role as forward-looking thinkers. Architects design the world we live in and the tools that we need to survive in the world. As the world is changing rapidly through climate change and increasing populations our current way of life needs to evolve.

With these challenges and opportunities, you should now have a good idea of what the Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter group within Autodesk Research is trying to achieve with Project Cyborg. What kind of things would you like to create with this technology?

Autodesk Research Project Cyborg