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Altair Inspire & 3D Printing: a Match made in Heaven

RP2industrial Prints Topology-Optimized Drone Design

Topology OptimizationOne of the most noticeable developments in the 3D printing area is, surprisingly enough, not the 3D printing technique itself, but a technique to create a 3D model: Topology Optimization (also known as: Generative Design). Topology Optimization is a technique where the user inputs all relevant design constraints, after which specialized 3D software delivers the user the most optimal shape. These shapes generally can only be made with 3D printing techniques. Ron Klauss and co-founder Mike de Winter of the 3D printing company RP2industrial (Etten-Leur, Netherlands) closely follow developments in the 3D print market and became intrigued by this technique.


When Klauss immersed himself in topology optimization, he came across Altair Inspire. Inspire is optimization software that uses the OptiStruct Engine developed by Altair. OptiStruct has been in development since the 1980s. So the technology is not new at all, but it has gained more ground in recent years. Partly because of the possibilities of 3D printing more and more 3D software today offers topology optimization.

OptiStruct is based on nature itself. As a result, it often yields very organic shapes that are difficult to produce by using traditional methods. Or sometimes cannot be produced at all. Now you can incorporate production constraints in Inspire, but that is restrictive to the shape. And that is why 3D printing is such a beautiful match with topology optimization: the freedom of form of both techniques is endless.

Together with Altair reseller Design8, Klauss searched for examples to print. In an Inspire Use Case they found a design of a drone, optimized by students at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) in Pune, India. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Girish S. Barpande they worked on their graduation project: "Topology Optimization of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)." The goal: optimize an existing drone model to a lighter and stronger design. They received assistance from Chaitanya Kachare, Associate Professor Transportation Design at the MIT sister organization Institute of Design.

Topology Optimization Topology Optimization The students had access to Altair Inspire and were able to achieve a weight reduction of 32% over the original design. They realized it in an exceptionally short design time. Furthermore, the optimized design did not consist of the original 6, but of only one component (the entire Use Case can be found here).

"The most interesting thing about that drone is the shape," says Klauss. "You can only 3D print such a shape, and because we are using an HP MultiJet Fusion printer, we are able to produce such a design very quickly."

Cold feet

Design8 is distributor of 3D design software and since 2013 reseller of the Altair Inspire Platform. Orlando Sardaro, director of Design8 and industrial designer, explains the background of the Altair Inspire Platform at Design8. "Our focus has always been design software," says Sardaro. "We offer designers tools to improve their design workflow. I have to admit that in the beginning, we also needed to get used to selling such technical software. But if you start seeing Inspire as a concept generator, then it perfectly fits our product portfolio. We notice that designers have to get used to this in the same way, and with patience we provide them all necessary information. Fortunately, Altair Inspire is an incredibly easy-to-use application that works flawlessly with all 3D software. Moreover, Altair Inspire offers the technology in a very accessible way. That helps a lot."

Altair Inspire delivers the designer the optimal shape, based on which the designer can create the perfect design. "This method differs fundamentally from the current method," says Sardaro. "It's exactly the opposite: today the designer generates a shape, after which someone else analyses it for strength and stiffness. If the design fails, valuable time gets wasted. Moreover, if approved, it often contains too much material and the design will therefore be heavier and more expensive than necessary. This design process can be improved, so I ask designers: why not start with the solution?”

Topology Optimization


RP2 received the 3D model of the drone via Design8 and Altair. It was 43 cm in size and fitted exactly the print bed of the HP MultiJet Fusion printer. Two models were ready within a day. The nylon drone cages were given a black color treatment after which they looked perfect. "The drone-cage felt incredibly strong and light," says Klauss happily. Orlando was also satisfied with the result and would like to see the drone fly. "We are now slowly gathering the parts so that the drone can really fly. Supported by this state-of-the-art technology, we have every confidence that this will work."

Topology OptimizationThe drone-cage was to be admired at the RapidPro fair in Veldhoven on March 13 and 14, 2019, where Design8, Altair and RP2 industrial were present.

About Altair Inspire

Altair Inspire is topology optimization software that delivers a shape, not just a picture. Based on the Altair OptiStruct Engine & Parasolid, Inspire generates concepts that are lighter, stronger and faster on the market.

About RP2

The specialty of RP2 industrial is serial production through 3D printing in plastic. Fast delivery, flexibility, reliability and personal contact are the characteristics with which RP2 industrial makes the difference. RP2 industrial is the sister company of RP2, founded in 2018, which has been a household name since 1998 in the field of rapid prototyping and 3D printing. Where RP2 mainly focuses on prototypes and 0-series of products, RP2 industrial is exclusively producing products through additive manufacturing.

About Design8 bv

Design8 bv in Tiel is supplier of 3D software to the design market. They support designers in their design workflow with affordable software being easy to use. In addition, they support their customers with technical support and training.

About the Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune, Inc.

The Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT), Pune, is an engineering college affiliated to the University of Pune, India. Established in 1983 by Vishwanath D. Karad, it is among the first engineering colleges in the private sector in Maharashtra.

De drone-cage is te bewonderen op de RapidPro beurs in Veldhoven

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