November 13, 2019
Dear DE Reader,
3D CAD has revolutionized engineering, but issues still remain surrounding the use of CAD in manufacturing processes. Rework is often needed to use a CAD model for CAE analysis, for example. The rise of additive manufacturing has added new demands on the creation of suitable geometry to send directly to the 3D printer. Collaborative use of models is still problematic. Regeneration of a propagated change can take hours, depending on the file size.
For those reasons, a New York City start-up is on a mission to help engineers design high performance parts faster. The nTop Platform 2.0 from nTopology has caught our eye; let us tell you why it is our Editor’s Pick of the Week.
nTopology calls nTop a platform because it is designed for importing all relevant engineering data from various sources into a single workspace where the data becomes a single model. The geometry engine uses implicit modeling, where data drives shape instead of shape driving data. nTopology says it is not creating a product to replace CAD, CAE, CAM or PLM, but to augment them. nTop Platform can bring in data from all these formats and work with them in a unified environment. One goal is to eliminate the need for STL translation by creating print-ready models in the nTop Platform.
Consider the engineering of a simple bracket. A CAD model shows the geometry and perhaps the associated manufacturing data. Simulation software will show where there is too much stress on one area. Seeing both in the nTop model, an engineer can add a lattice structure to the part, to lightweight it and to solve stress issues when it is 3D printed. Using standard workflow, each iteration to apply lattice and a skin with typical CAD software would entail a tedious and time-consuming process. If four studies are required, it might take four days to get the work done, just to compare results. In nTop Platform 2.0, the same changes are applied in a few seconds.
The key to the speed by which nTop Platform works is found in a mix of generative design and artificial intelligence algorithms bundled into what nTopology calls field-based design. A slice of a model identifies the field. Rule-based actions are then applied to the field. In the case of the bracket, the rule would tell the software to start with a 3 mm lattice structure at one end, and have it end as 1 mm at the other. Calculations would be applied and the results would be available as fast as a redraw (depending on the model size).
Blocks are the atomic unit of work in nTop Platform. If you import a part, that’s a block. If you shell a part, that’s a block. nTop users can tie blocks together to create a compound block, creating a template for automated workflow.
The big news with this month’s release of nTop Platform 2.0 is the introduction of five toolkits: Lightweighting; Architected Materials; Design Analysis; Topology Optimization; and Additive Manufacturing. Each toolkit is a bundle of commonly used tools within the nTopology software, each enabling a specific form of workflow. Also new with 2.0 is vendor-written toolkits.
There is much more about nTop Platform 2.0 in this week’s Product Brief, including details on each toolkit and performance requirements. nTopology plans a webinar soon to provide a deep dive.
Thanks for reading; we will be back next week with another Editor’s Pick of the Week.
—The DE Editors