Let Your Ideas Take Shape!

When I was in high school and considering career choices, I had it easy. I only considered one option: becoming an engineer. My brothers and I spent our early years imagining, designing and building model planes, boats, go-carts, robots, furniture, electric motors, telescopes, ventriloquist dummies—you name it. Equipped with our father’s drafting equipment, basement workshop and unbounded encouragement we spent countless hours learning that it takes a lot of creativity and redesign to turn a concept into a reality. I eventually earned engineering degrees and entered the CAE world where I spent two decades using and creating CAE tools. I love CAE. Simulation and optimization are amazing stuff. And CAE truly makes our world better. Engineers with the right tools can do real magic.


But I have to confess that, in the world of CAE, I’ve often missed the satisfaction I felt at my father’s drafting board and in his workshop. We all get new design ideas we want to see come to life. Whether you’re a designer trapped in an engineer’s body or you’re only in engineering for that math and physics buzz, you ought to have the tools to explore your design ideas when a flash of inspiration hits you. Alas, as a CAE specialist, your options often are limited. Sure, you’re a whiz with your CAE tools, but your inner designer needs to d-e-s-i-g-n, darn it. And how many of us really know how to use the clunky corporate CAD system or even get access to it? Yeah, Google SketchUp is free and simple, but you’re idea is more interesting than a box with a hole in it, right?

Well, I have good news for your inner designer. Altair has quietly slipped two new tools into HyperWorks from its design tool subsidiary, solidThinking, Inc.


solidThinking™: Concept Geometry Modeling and Rendering

solidThinking™ is a 3D industrial design and conceptual modeling application you can use to create geometry quickly and easily using your HyperWorks license. You can create, render and share surface and solid models, from furniture and electronic devices to watches, jewelry, product packaging, yachts and more.

solidThinking has a construction history, so it’s an ideal tool for quickly developing and iterating concept designs. You can freely experiment with new designs without having to reconstruct your model each time you make a change. You can sketch curves in 3D and construct surface and solid NURBS geometry using extrusions, revolves, skins, lofts, sweeps, blends, Booleans, trims and more.


You can create photorealistic renderings of geometry and meshes using the real-time renderer and ray-tracers in solidThinking. You can import geometry and H3D results into the same model and apply appearance properties from the solidThinking material library. Render jaw-dropping images and animations of deforming meshes in realistic environments and use them in your presentations. Wow.

Inspired: Basic Topology Optimization Made Easy

solidThinking Inspired™ is the second product from solidThinking now available in HyperWorks. solidThinking Inspired makes setting up and running basic topology optimization easy. Import design-space and non-design- space solids into solidThinking Inspired and apply boundary conditions directly on the geometry. Graphically define shape controls, such as parting directions and symmetry, and use part-instancing to create pattern repetition on parts that are repeated in an assembly. You can run topology optimization with a few clicks and automatically retrieve results from the run history. You don’t even have to deal with a mesh. You can also do quick mass summaries and static weight calculations on assemblies. When you have a result you like, you can export the STL shape directly to solidThinking or HyperMesh.

solidThinking Inspired is a great way to perform really quick, coarse concept-level topology optimization in minutes instead of hours or days. When you want to get sophisticated, just send your design-space geometry to HyperMesh.

Both of these tools are available in HyperWorks 11.0. So go ahead; get creative again. Release your inner designer and let your ideas take shape. Oh yeah, then analyze and optimize the heck out of them. Enjoy!

► Learn more about solidThinking

► Learn more about solidThinking Inspired

James Dagg
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James Dagg

About James Dagg

James joined Altair in 1987 where he worked as a structural analyst and as a multi-body dynamics analyst in the field of vehicle dynamics. He is currently the Chief Technical Officer for Altair’s modeling, visualization, and math-based solutions and strategy with a primary responsibility to create an exceptional user experience across Altair’s entire software portfolio. For more than 25 years, James has been a visionary behind Altair’s software strategy and development activities. Prior to his role as CTO, he was the Senior Vice President for solidThinking®. James received his BSME in 1988 from the University of Michigan and his MS in Applied Mechanics from U of M in 1993.