Tech Update


Software Enables Complex Parts, Tooling

Monday, November 4, 2019

Increasingly complex 3D printed parts call for innovative tooling. That begins with the software; in some cases, the same software used to design and optimize 3D printed parts.

That’s true of nTopology’s nTop Platform, which allows engineers to streamline design, analysis, and simulation within the same software system, and in a fraction of the time needed with conventional software tools.

Think about an injection mold,” says nTopology’s Christopher Cho, senior application engineer at nTopology. “In a traditional manufacturing process, the tooling engineer relies on his or her experience to place cooling channels around the mold cavity; if they misjudge, workpiece quality might suffer, or the mold may become damaged. With nTop Platform, we can simulate the thermal effects of the molding process and then generate or augment conformal-cooling channels, thus optimizing heat transfer in regions near those hotspots. The result is an optimized design—and because we can then apply that same workflow to the next mold, the engineering team becomes just as efficient as the products they are designing.” 

Another example: “A milling fixture for a workpiece with an organic or contoured shape, something that’s increasingly common given the rise of 3D printing,” says Cho. “Because nTop Platform allows engineers to easily and efficiently work with these complex geometries, any tooling we design to grip them is going to be more conformal and more effective, resulting in productivity gains.” 

As stated earlier, Cho is quick to point out that nTop Platform is not limited to tooling applications. The software has been used to design and optimize 3D-printed rocket engines, drones, and tennis shoes, brake pedals for Formula 1 racecars, and a host of other products for the likes of Airbus, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. Air Force.

Other opportunities involve medical-device manufacturers, companies that wish to reduce the development efforts needed for bespoke hip implants, knee replacements, spinal components, and more. “Each one of the parts within these product families is similar in size and shape but, for the best results, is often customized to fit the specific patient,” Cho adds. “In this instance, nTop Platform allows for development of a single workflow that accommodates tens or even hundreds of product variants."


See also: Ntopology

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