Concept: Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed an AI-enhanced tool named Fabricaide to provide feedback on the placement of various laser-cut parts onto metal sheets. The team claims the tool is capable of analyzing material utility rates to formulate efficient plan designs with respect to available materials.

Nature of Disruption: Fabricaide apparently reduces material leftovers with a workflow that conspicuously lessens the feedback loop between design and fabrication. The tool acts as an interface that integrates with existing design tools and is compatible with computer-assisted design (CAD) tools like AutoCAD, SolidWorks and Adobe Illustrator. Fabricaide leverages AI to maintain an archive of user activity by tracking how much of each material has been left. It enables the user to allocate multiple materials to various parts of the design to be cut, simplifying multi-material designs in the process. Fabricaide also comes with a custom 2D packing ML algorithm to efficiently arrange parts onto sheets in real-time. As the user creates their design, it optimizes the placement of parts onto existing sheets and alerts the user if there is insufficient material, with suggestions for material substitutes.

Outlook: There are many materials that are very scarce and their scarcity often raises a problem for designers when a specific material is run out and they’ve already cut the design. Fabricaide eases this problem by proactively determining how best can the materials be allocated. The researchers aspire to incorporate more sophisticated properties of materials, like how strong or flexible they need to be, in the future. If commercialized, this could help manufacturers transform their operations by playing a vital role in automating stages of manufacturing and augmenting human work.

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