Saturday, October 16

How This $140 Million Design Software Startup Uses Math To Help Power The Shift To 3D Printing

Bradley Rothenberg, co-founder, and CEO of nTopology is building a next-generation style software application that counts on mathematical computations to create 3D-printed parts and items that are lighter and more effective than would be possible with older CAD systems. As 3D printing takes hold as a way for mass production in industries like aerospace, automotive, and healthcare, his New york city City-based start-up anticipates profits to more than triple this year, to $5 million, up from $1.5 million in 2019.

That’s still tiny, of course, however, the market for this type of cloud-based generative design software is growing so fast that in June –– 6 months earlier than anticipated and despite the pandemic –– nTopology raised $42 million led by Insight Partners at an evaluation of $140 million. The fresh capital will assist nTopology, which has 82 staff members, broaden as markets consisting of aerospace, automotive, and health care embrace 3D printing for future products, such as electrical automobiles.
“We’re the toolmakers behind the scenes enabling this entire industry to work,” says Rothenberg, 35.


The start-up’s cloud-based software, which costs approximately $5,000 per user each year, has been used to redesign brackets for space satellites, to make more effective spinal cages for back surgical treatment, and to rapidly develop nasal swabs for Covid-19 screening throughout the pandemic, amongst other uses. Customers consist of Lockheed Martin (which is likewise a financier), Raytheon, BMW, Daimler, Trek Bikes, NASA, and Lightforce Orthodontics.


As producers rely on 3D printing to produce parts and items at mass scale, topology is part of an emerging industry of next-generation design software that consists of items from Autodesk, Dassault Systemes’ Solidworks, and PTC’s Frustum. The advanced calculations in nTop’s software enable it to develop structures that are hollowed out or have lattice designs that might just be created with 3D printers, yet are as strong and as functional as heavier, clunkier styles.


“The benefit is that you can produce difficult geometries that you can not produce in CAD,” states Chris Prucha, creator of 3D printing start-up Origin, who initially satisfied Rothenberg in 2015 and dealt with nTopology software application on the nasal swabs task. ” I think topology is the first to take all these generative design concepts and put a plan together that achieves success.”

Rothenberg, who has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pratt Institute, got the idea for nTopology while working as a consultant to Lockheed Martin. While there, he had immersed himself in the design troubles of making complicated parts and co-authored a paper for SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, on the ” optomechanical efficiency of 3D-printed mirrors with embedded cooling channels and bases.”

In easy terms, the problem, as he discusses, is that the original CAD software application, which was created to change preparing and attracting the 1960s, has been surpassed by today’s engineering complexity. CAD software works in 2D, representing objects as a mesh of smaller sized polygons that theorizes out to 3D for manufacturing, rather than developing in 3 measurements.

What that means is that aspects like strength and thermodynamics aren’t factored in, leading to styles that need to integrate into a large security net. For engineers, the impact of changing to nTopology’s style software is that they no longer need to overcompensate or invest weeks and even months redoing a design to make it practical.

Rothenberg cofounded nTopology with Greg Schroy, handling director of early-stage fund Locke Mountain Ventures, in 2015. The name nTopology is a play on the word geography, a mathematical term for the study of geometric properties or spatial relations unaffected by the constant change of shape or size of figures.
With nTop software, equations represent a 3D strong– from any point in space, it can query the precise range to its shape– permitting more complicated parts. These include the lattice structures and foams that are typical in 3D printing along with higher-performance designs for forged parts.


The concept was motivated, however, it took some time to get the software application to work. Prucha, a previous Apple engineer, remembers how Rothenberg came by Origin’s workplace to reveal off an early version of the software application. “It was literally a mess. It was all these fantastic ideas, however, the interface was inconsistent and hard to use,” he remembers. “After an hour all of us nodded and talked about how excellent it was, but we had no concept how to use the software application due to the fact that it was so complex.”

Ever Since, Rothenberg and his group have fine-tuned the software and made it simple to use, getting consumers in aerospace and defense, medical and consumer items. nTopology and Origin are now part of a team competing in the Air Force’s advanced manufacturing Olympics challenge to redesign a type of clamp used in its F-16 fighter aircraft.

Meanwhile, in consumer products, Trek Bikes has started using nTopology’s software in its research study and advancement efforts. “We utilize a great deal of CAD now, however … it simply gets slowed down the more complex you get,” says Alan Baryudin, an accessories engineer at Trek’s Bontrager brand name. While Baryudin decreased to speak about specific research tasks he’s working on, he noted that 3D printing might allow bike makers to produce lighter, more aerodynamic styles or to manufacture customized items that are a custom-made fit for each rider. “We’re utilizing nTopology as a tool to get in the video game,” he states.


Rothenberg anticipates that nTopology’s income could triple once again next year as it rolls out to more customers and broadens the variety of users for its software application at its existing customers. While manufacturing output has slowed at a few of the markets it serves, there’s been no downturn in research and development efforts for future items, Rothenberg states. In reality, he states, he’s seeing the greatest growth amongst automobile and aerospace customers.

“We’ll land an account with one or two or 4 users, and then we’ll scale up quickly in that account,” he states. “In some accounts, we double users each quarter; in some, we include 3 or 4 users a month.” And he’s not anticipating that to decrease anytime quickly.