Autodesk Software Shows Impact of Material Choices

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Software company Autodesk added a new feature to its digital prototyping product to help designers make environmental decisions where they matter most, at the earliest stages of product creation.

Autodesk's Inventor 2012 software, which started shipping this week, comes with the Eco Materials Adviser, a tool created through a partnership with Granta Design, a U.K. company focused on materials information technology.

The Eco Materials Adviser links Inventor to Granta's materials database, providing information on life cycle environmental impacts. 

Inventor users can see the embedded energy, water use, carbon emissions, raw material cost, toxicity and end-of-life options associated with materials in their designs. They can then set baselines for specific impacts and search for materials that meet those constraints.

The Eco Materials Adviser also notes if materials comply with the European Union's Restriction on Hazardous Substances and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directives.

Autodesk has been steadily adding features to its suite of software to assist product and building designers in making more informed choices during the earliest phases of design, to catch potential environmental impact hot spots or plan for energy efficiency before final products or buildings are made.