Manufacturing guy-at-large.

Joining nTopology

Added on by Spencer Wright.

Nine months ago I had one of those random conversations where you walk away feeling thrilled to be working in an industry with such compelling, intelligent people.

I had met Bradley before then (there are only so many people working on additive manufacturing in NYC), but only in passing. In the meantime our paths had diverged somewhat. He was working hard on design software, whereas I had focused on getting industrial AM experience through developing a physical product. But our approaches to the industry had converged, and we had developed a shared enthusiasm for addressing the technological problems in AM head on. We became instant allies, and started swapping emails on a weekly basis. 

In August, when nTopology launched their private beta program, I jumped at the chance to use it in my own designs. The engineering advantages of lattice structures were immediately evident, and nTopology's rule-based approach allowed me to quickly develop designs that met my functional goals. And as I spent more time with nTopology's software - and got to know Greg, Matt, Erik, and Abhi - my enthusiasm about what they were building only grew.

Today I'm thrilled to announce that I'm joining nTopology full time, to run business operations and help direct product strategy. nTopology's team, mission, and product are all precisely what I've been looking for since I began working on additive manufacturing, and I can't wait for the work we've got ahead of us.

For posterity, here are a few thoughts about nTopology's approach towards design for additive manufacturing:

  1. From the very beginning of my work in AM, it was evident that traditional CAD software would never let me design the kinds of parts I wanted. I was looking for variable density parts with targeted, anisotropic mechanical properties - things that feature-based CAD is fundamentally incapable of making. nTopology's lattice design software, on the other hand, can. 
  2. As the number of beams in a lattice structure increases beyond a handful, designing by engineering intuition alone becomes totally impractical. It's important, then, to run mechanical simulations early on, and use the results to drive the design directly. nTopology let me do just that.
  3. nTopology's approach towards optimization lets me, the engineer, set my own balance between manual and algorithmic design. This is key: when I intuitively know what the design should look like, I can take the reins. When I'd rather let simulation data drive, that's fine too. The engineering process is collaborative - the software is there to help, but gets out of the way when I need it to.
  4. Best of all, nTopology doesn't limit me to design optimization - it lets me design new structures and forms as well. That means far more flexibility for me. No longer am I locked into design decisions artificially early in my workflow, when a lot of the effects of those decisions are unknown. nTopology gives a fluid transition from mechanical CAD to DFM, and lets me truly consider - and adjust - my design's effectiveness and efficiency throughout the process.

The nTopology team has shown incredible progress in a tiny amount of time. They've built a powerful, valuable, and intuitive engineering tool in less than a year - and have set a trajectory that points towards a paradigm shift in additive manufacturing design.

In the coming months, I'll be writing more about our company, our mission, and our design workflow. If you're an engineer, developer, or UI designer interested in working on the future of CAD, send me a note or see our job postings on AngelList. To learn more about purchasing a license of nTopology Element, get in touch with me directly here.