Product Design

solidThinking Inspire Takes Structural Concepts to New Level

25 Jun, 2013 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Version 9.5 further simplifies design optimization for engineers, product designers, and even architects.


How It Works

Jim Hassberger, solidThinking president, explained that the software allows users to develop and consider various design options at the start of the design process. “You can try a bunch of different things early, when you have more flexibility to make changes,” he said.

Inspire is ideal for redesigning moving parts and heavy cast components, such as those commonly found in automotive or aerospace applications. Using Inspire, Hassberger said, “You usually end up with lighter parts.”

Most Inspire users start with a legacy product model that they want to improve. Using geometry brought in from any 3D CAD solution, Inspire carves out the package space of the design. The user applies constraints such as maximum stress and deflections, maximum stiffness, minimum mass, or type of manufacturing process. That’s when Inspire generates an optimized material layout, typically adding holes or other features to produce a lighter part that meets structural requirements. The model that results is a solid and the file is in STL format — just like models used for 3D printing. Users can bring that file into CAD to use as the basis for new part designs, or simply take the features of the optimized design and apply as desired to the original model.


Inspire’s design-optimization process (left to right, top to bottom): 1. Import CAD model for an existing part or sketch in 2D and push and pull to create solids; 2. Create the package space, representing the maximum volume a part can occupy; 3. Assign materials and loading; 4. See the ideal part (and note that the optimal material layout may not be manufacturable); 5. Control the result by applying optional manufacturing and shape controls; 6. Develop a new part. (Click image to enlarge.)

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