Maker man: Autodesk CEO Carl Bass says design and manufacturing belong together.

The Next Wave of Manufacturing

Don’t Divorce Design from Manufacturing

The CEO of design software giant Autodesk says advances in computing are lowering manufacturing costs while making products better.

By Jessica Leber on January 25, 2013

The software company Autodesk doesn’t manufacture anything. But it stills play a role in the manufacturing economy: engineers, industrial designers, and factory builders rely on its design software to plan out and improve on their ideas before making big investments.

Design can offer ways for companies to sell products for more money even as they lower the costs of making them. Yet with a growing trade deficit in manufactured goods, the United States now designs many products that it no longer makes. Autodesk’s CEO, Carl Bass, believes that must change.

Manufacturing and product design make up the fastest-growing segment of Autodesk’s $2.2 billion business, representing 30 to 40 percent of revenues today. Now the California-based company has started to sell Netflix-style subscriptions that let customers access its prototyping, simulation, and process-modeling software on the Web. This change is more fundamental than it seems—it allows designers and engineers to exploit far more computing power in product testing.

Bass, a hobbyist who last year designed his own Christmas gifts and had them produced on a 3-D printer, spoke with MIT Technology Review business editor Jessica Leber about the role of design in manufacturing.

Read more: Autodesk CEO Carl Bass on Why Design Matters for Manufacturing | MIT Technology Review.

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