On February 7, Autodesk released Informed Design, a pair of add-ons for the company's building information modeling and product design authoring tools intended to better automate the process of product design and placement of mechanical assemblies and other complex products into 3D building and infrastructure models.

Autodesk says Informed Design connects design and manufacturing workflows, and will allow designers to specify products and assemblies that were created in Inventor, the company's manufacturing authoring tool, into Revit, its parametric BIM tool. This is a functionality that Autodesk says architects and engineers have been demanding for a long time.

"Informed Design improves certainty," said Ryan McMahon, general manager manufacturing/Informed Design at Autodesk during a press event announcing the product. "Productization is the key concept that makes this possible. Fabricators and subcontractors will define their products including all the ways they can be varied but remain manufacturable. These products are then published so that architects can discover and use them during design."

From Inventor to Revit

The workflow uses Autodesk's Construction Cloud collaboration platform as a go-between for Inventor and Revit. McMahon said Autodesk does not plan to make a direct workflow available. 

McMahon explained that Informed Design is an add-in that allows Inventor to export fully-formed Revit families as an output. "A shortcoming of Inventor is that it has not in the past produced outputs that have categories, family names, void bodies, coordinate systems, things like that," he said. While Informed Design will allow customers to use Inventor to create a Revit family, manually placing that Revit family inside a Revit project will require Construction Cloud, which Autodesk uses to store templates and project data.

"The capability around defining the rules for a template and enforcing those rules necessitates using our solution to take advantage of the authoring and enforcement components." McMahon said.

Informed Design for Inventor allows building product design engineers to automate the process of creating models of building products such as mechanical equipment and assemblies for components such as unitized curtainwall, and even building components such as escalators.

Informed Design for Revit allows architects, engineers and virtual design and construction professionals to then place those building products into their models. Because they can see how the 3D parametric building product objects fit into the overall project, users can perform basic clash detection and constructability assessments. Being able to confirm that specified building products meet project requirements and are compatible with other installed components and meet industry standards was another longtime demand of Autodesk users in the design world.

On-Demand Pricing

McMahon said that while users will need Revit, Inventor and Construction Cloud to use Informed Design, the add-on will be available with no upfront charge. Informed Design will be part of Autodesk’s Design and Make Platform environment.

"Ultimately, we will wind up charging on generating output," he said. "We don't want to charge for authoring products. We don't want to charge for placing an instance of a product in a building project. But when you want to create a bill of materials, shop drawings or other formats used to fabricate it, we think that that is a point in which we have created value for our customers. That feels like the right thing to monetize. And so we will plan on having a token rate based on the outputs that you create."

Several Autodesk customers began testing Informed Design in the second half of 2023. 

"Autodesk Informed Design has shown that there’s a way to bring customized details, good aesthetics and quality engineering into a product that can be mass produced," said Benjamin Hall, senior product manager at Green Canopy NODE, a sustainability consultant that works mainly with the design of green homes. “Designing with constraints doesn’t curb my creativity—it gives me choices I know will work."

International Data Corporation (IDC), a provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets has been testing its workflows with Informed Design.

"Through a connected, bidirectional digital thread and sharing of data across the AECO ecosystem of partners, it is easier to optimize supplier performance and deliver quality products and services that complement the overall design of a building," said Jeffrey Hojlo, research vice president, Future of Industry Ecosystems & Energy Insight at IDC.

Autodesk said both add-ons will be available Feb. 7 for their respective authoring tools and via Construction Cloud. The company also released a 90-second explainer video for Informed Design.