When it comes to fresh food, the quicker you freeze it, the better you can prevent bacterial growth and extend shelf life. That means food that is more visually appealing, tastes better and retains a higher nutritional value.

Preserving the food isn't just about making it as appetizing as possible. Failing to do it means food desperately needed in the developing world will spoil before reaching hungry mouths.

However, freezing food as quickly as possible often means using potentially dangerous freezing chemicals.

Bjørn Hermann, CEO of Seattle-based nanoICE, and his crew began wrestling with that problem.

"Our goal was to redesign homemade machines to make them bigger, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly," nanoICE engineer Peyton McCann said on Autodesk's customer's stories Web page. "Our main challenge was taking a proven concept and building a machine around it that would continuously produce exactly what we wanted at high yields, while reducing the environmental impact."

They took a handmade prototype and reworked it through Autodesk Product Design Suite Ultimate 3D CAD software.

They came up with the nanoICE system, which uses microscopic ice particles dispensed in liquid flow form to chill and preserve food, according to the company's Web site.

"Because the nanoICE system contains many complex components, we used Autodesk Inventor to create and compare digital prototypes of multiple configurations," McCann said. "Using Inventor, we did it all digitally."

Then they 3D printed the new and improved machine, which has tested well in Africa, Hawaii, Japan, and the United States and has begun serial production of its first commercial models.

Maybe best of all, it uses 70 percent less energy than conventional ice machines and as much as 90 percent less Freon.

"The Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program was invaluable – especially since we are a startup company with limited funding," Hermann said in the same Autodesk blog. "Inventor and Showcase helped us create digital prototypes and accelerate time to production." Moving forward, nanoICE, Inc. plans to use Sim 360 to perform simultaneous resource-intensive simulation studies of the complex phase changes that occur in the ice generator. "We anticipate that those studies will help us further optimize system design and produce an even better machine."