Autodesk Inventor Helps Designers Focus on World’s Largest Telescope

The world’s largest telescope is under development, and when complete in 2018, astronomers will have the clearest and most far-reaching views of the universe yet. The telescope will be housed in an astronomical observatory created by Dynamic Structures, one of the world’s premier providers of complex movable structures. For its innovative design, British Columbia-based Dynamic Structures has been named as the Autodesk Inventor of the Month for March 2009.

Dynamic Structures is using Autodesk Inventor software–the foundation of the Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping–to accelerate design of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the ground-based astronomical observatory that will house the 14-story, 2,000-pound telescope. The core technology of TMT will be a 492-segment, 30-meter diameter primary mirror capable of providing up to 10 times the magnification power of existing ground-based telescopes.

The Inventor of the Month program recognizes the most innovative design and engineering advancements made by the extensive community using Autodesk Inventor software. A digital prototype is a realistic 3D digital simulation of the entire end product, used to virtually optimize and validate a product before it is built, reducing the need for physical prototypes.

“With Digital Prototyping, we don’t have to worry about spending thousands of dollars on physical prototypes only to find out that a part doesn’t work the way we thought it would,” said Craig Breckenridge, drawing office manager at Dynamic Structures. “I’m not sure how we’d even begin to tackle a project of this size without Inventor–the resources required would just be overwhelming.”

“March Inventor of the Month, Dynamic Structures, is at the forefront of astronomy’s next-generation observatory,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk. “We are impressed at how Dynamic Structures has used Inventor to quite literally ‘think big’ and bring a visionary idea to life.”

The world’s largest existing telescope is only 10 meters in diameter, making the TMT much larger and more ambitious than anything ever constructed before. The TMT enclosure itself weighs around 2,000 tons. Together, the telescope and structure will have nearly 200,000 parts.

Using Inventor software—in combination with collaboration from Autodesk reseller and training partner, IMAGINiT Technologies—has helped Dynamic Structures validate design functionality and catch errors before anything is built. It has also reduced the time required to create and revise part and assembly drawings by more than 20%, helping the TMT project to stay on schedule.