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24 January 2012 | PR 12/9

Pioneering design research leads to radical shape-breeding software

A radical new design tool that breeds new shapes at the touch of a screen has been developed at Loughborough University.

The unique evolutionary software automatically creates new shapes based on the DNA of earlier shapes, rapidly offering endless inspiration to the designer and reducing the time between concept generation and digital modelling.

The software can instantly generate a variety of shapes that the designer can then evolve towards whatever they like.  The designer simply selects the shapes they like or scores them, prompting the system to breed new populations of shapes.  The real innovation is that each new population of shapes will inherit the desirable features of the previously selected shapes, while simultaneously offering new ideas and variations.

“By selectively breeding 3-D shapes, EvoShape is not only inspiring product form and styling but also innovative new product features,” says Dr Graham.  “It’s particularly exciting to see how a family of products can evolve from the same ‘shape DNA’ and also how this can encourage design professionals and their clients to collaborate on product design, across many industry sectors.”

Dr Ian Graham discovered this high-tech Darwinian approach to design while an undergraduate at Loughborough’s Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and developed the technology during his PhD there.  Knowledge Transfer funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) continues to support Dr Graham in commercialising the innovative research in the University’s Design School, with the backing of the University’s Enterprise Office.

Following its initial trial with 10 Leicestershire design companies, EvoShape was unveiled to the design industry in Austria in October 2011.  Since then, it has already stimulated further collaborations with companies in Italy, America and the UK.  The Enterprise Office is in discussions with companies interested in developing the software under licence.

“EvoShape is an excellent example of how innovative research can be exploited to boost the competitiveness of the design industry at a local, national and international level,” said Professor Steve Rothberg, the University’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Enterprise).  He concluded, “We can now confidently demonstrate this exciting new technology to both potential investors and development partners.”

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Anna Seddon
Marketing Manager (Enterprise)
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445
E: .A.J.Seddon@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

About EvoShape (www.evoshape.co.uk)
EvoShape is underpinned by Interactive Evolutionary Design research undertaken by Dr Ian Graham in Loughborough University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.  Dr Graham was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship funded by Loughborough’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Knowledge Transfer Account to commercialise the research in the University’s Design School.  The University’s Enterprise Office is in discussions with design companies interested in developing the software under licence.

EvoShape currently runs within Siemens’ high-end CAD system ‘NX’, and Siemens PLM were commercial advisors on the previous phase of the project.

About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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