Voxel Customizes Predictive Models with Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Mathematics

How the Cincinnati startup’s software is generating superior engineering designs

A closeup of Voxel CAD software

When engineers come up with a concept for a product, there is typically a long and extensive process to bring that concept from idea to reality. First designs are rarely final designs, and there is a long road of testing, evaluating, and correcting before products can be brought to market. In recent decades, model-based testing has become the norm to help engineers create the best version of a product in the most efficient way possible, and one Cincinnati startup is leveraging artificial intelligence and highly-advanced math and physics to innovate the testing process by rapidly generating superior designs with custom predictive models.

“Additive manufacturing allows you to make all these different shapes that can do many different things,” Voxel CEO and Co-founder Aaron Chow said. “The big challenge becomes, when you have such an open sandbox, what do you make? So the way we like to think about it is that in between an empty space and a solid block, there are an infinite number of designs. The chances you’ll find that design naturally are very low, but the chances that a design exists that can do the job you want it to do are very high, so we’re working to fill the missing link between the evaluation of a design and getting to a functional part.”

Using AI and advanced mathematics, the team at Voxel is building software that predicts the outcome of a specific design and how it will behave once produced, with the goal of shortening the evaluation process from years to several weeks. The program is not being designed to replace engineers, but instead to optimize the design process.

“We see ourselves adding capabilities on the design side of things for the engineer,” Chow said. “We don’t build or sell machines or materials, where we fall is taking what an engineer can design and build and bringing that to the next level. Essentially, our software acts as a fancy calculator for 3D models to solve complex engineering challenges. It’s a step towards unlocking even more potential from additive manufacturing by giving the engineer a new tool set.”

Rather than targeting specific industries with its technology, Voxel differentiates itself by focusing on the application of its technology and how it can enable the use of additive manufacturing in production overall, benefitting a variety of industries by helping them reduce costs and bring products to market more quickly.

“Our technologies are based around physics verticals, so we focus on things like lightweighting a structure, reducing heat, or bleeding off acoustic energy,” he said. “That enables us to work with engineering leaders in different fields to see how we can apply our model. For example, making an aircraft lighter increases fuel efficiency, payload, and maneuverability, but that’s going to look very different from making an electric vehicle lighter, which could look like reducing the vehicle’s overall footprint, both in terms of manufacturing and generated waste.”

Recently, the startup closed a $1.7 million funding round led by CincyTech, a partner of the Ohio Third Frontier program, with plans to open new headquarters in Cincinnati. Chow, a native of the Queen City, said the region’s deep history as a manufacturing hub and its proximity to a multitude of industries made it the perfect launching pad for Voxel.

“This funding round has unlocked a lot of opportunities for us,” he said. “We’re diving headfirst into the further development of our predictive tools, which is our primary focus to show the practical capabilities of our technology, even before the tool is widely launched. Cincinnati is where we can lean into the support that we need, with its roots here in manufacturing, phenomenal labs, and automotive and aerospace expertise. The city really supports a lot of these high tech industries we’re interested in.”

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