Q&A: nTopology on its mission to help engineers design and make better parts, faster

This week, New York-based software company nTopology made its TCT Show debut in Birmingham with its TCT Award-winning nTop Platform. Here, Founder and CEO Bradley Rothenberg discusses the platform’s innovative approach to design for advanced manufacturing, optimising part geometry, analysis and manufacturability, and plans for future expansion.

TCT: nTopology recently brought its nTop Platform software to market – can you talk a little about the software and the gap you are aiming to fill in the AM market?

Bradley Rothenberg: nTop Platform takes advantage of our new technology to model geometry that is faster and more reliable. We leverage parallel processing power (GPU & CPU) to enable speed and we incorporate an open and reusable approach to workflows that enable automation, collaboration, and integration with the existing engineering software stack. Combine this with embedded simulation capabilities and we can deliver unprecedented speed and the ability to handle complexity with ease.

TCT: The nTop Platform took home the TCT Software Award at this year’s TCT Awards. Can you tell us about what makes the product so innovative? 

BR: An organisation’s ability to innovate is at the mercy of the tools at their disposal. Oftentimes the tools in which they have invested prevent their engineers from evaluating new design concepts, incorporating empirical data into functional requirements, or driving design parameters through simulation knowledge. Ultimately, innovation can be stifled, and reliance on traditional manufacturing techniques leaves organisations unpoised to remain competitive.

nTop Platform’s unique, integrated approach encourages experimentation with novel design ideas. Functional requirements can be incorporated into fundamental building blocks, with metamaterials included to tailor specific behaviour of desired designs. The end result of this modelling innovation is that engineers will be able to more quickly create extremely complex designs that represent the best combination of geometry, analysis and manufacturability.

TCT: We often hear about a disconnect between hardware and software in the additive manufacturing industry – have you found that to be the case and how does nTopology’s software address this?

BR: We believe that software, hardware and materials need to be deeply connected for an engineer to be able to realise an optimised design for additive manufacturing. Over the next few months, you’ll hear us talking more about architected materials and how nTop Platform enables the engineer the ability to capture design requirements for specific materials, use simulation to optimise for a specific process, and define manufacturing constraints for specific processes. Once the design is finalised, we output directly to manufacture as slices, not discretised STL meshes that then need to be prepared in yet another piece of software. To complete the loop, we’ll also take in scan data of an as-printed part and use that to compensate the geometry for the next iteration.

TCT: nTop incorporates generative and simulation-based design tools. As the additive manufacturing industry continues to shift to production, how are tools like this helping that to happen?

BR: nTop’s mission is to help engineers design and make better parts, faster. As companies shift toward using AM for production parts, optimised design for performance, re-usable design workflows and the ability to collaborate across the manufacturing teams are critical for success. Also, nTop Platform enables engineers to optimise design regardless of part complexity. Traditional tools can hinder design freedom, fear of computer crashes and regeneration failures are practical concerns when using traditional design tools for additive applications. Further, having a connected solution where the software output is sent directly to the AM hardware in a clean, lightweight and usable format is key. 

TCT: Are there any particular user success stories you can tell us about that demonstrate this?

BR: Our customers include industry leaders in aerospace/defense, automotive, medical and consumer goods. Across those industries, we have customers who are demonstrating the power of reusable workflows. Some are using our lightweighting capabilities (topology optimisation & lattice infill) to optimise parts where size/weight is critical and traditional tools can’t address completely. We have customers who want to do designs of experiments in hours, not weeks, and we enable that. Finally, our hardware partnerships are ensuring scale and manufacturability. We are working with industry leaders like EOS and Renishaw to eliminate the need for cumbersome and risky STL files and ensure successful and accurate builds.

TCT: This is nTopology’s first year at TCT Show and you recently announced the opening of a new European office – can you talk about your vision and what we can expect to see next?

BR: We are seeing huge interest globally and particularly in Europe and Japan. Our goal to scale quickly necessitates the move to open international offices and our first European office in Germany. Along with customer demand for the software itself, many of our hardware and simulation partners are also based in central Europe which helps us to create a tighter integration, and smoother workflows for our shared customers.

There’s lots more to come from nTop this year and beyond. You can expect to see nTop Platform continue to deliver more value to companies looking to innovate faster and to see us addressing applications that move beyond additive into other areas of advanced manufacturing. Stayed tuned this Fall!

Visit nTopology at TCT Show 2019 on 24-26th September at NEC, Birmingham (stand E53). Register for your free ticket here

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