Maya 2017 Update 3 added some great new deformer features, such as a Tension Deformer. IT also added a new Bake Deformer Tool that will allow you to bake down the effects of a deformer into skinning.
Autodesk’s Steven Roselle walks through using the new Bake Deformer Tool using an example of when it might be used. You are able to get a quick skin of a character by using a geodesic voxelized binding when skinning a mesh to a skeleton. You can then quickly fix glaring problems by using the Delta Mush Deformer on top of the skin cluster. The problem is, that deformers, although GPU enabled, will not produce realtime results as they are calculated on every frame.
This is where the new Bake Deformer Tool comes into play. With it, you can choose a mesh and a skeleton as a source and another (or the same) as a target. The tool will take the source character and rotate every joint along different axis and does a skin decomposition from that data. It will convert any layered deformer and merge it into skin weights. Pretty cool.
The Bake Deformer Tool doesn’t have a corresponding tool in the Maya interface yet, you need to run it through the command line. The panel is simple to work out, for such a complex calculation between both meshes. Steven notes that the result isn’t 100% true to the original, but it does a really good job of getting as close as it can.