Altair acquires 3D printing software startup Gen3D – 3DPrint.com

Altair Engineering Inc., the Michigan-based provider of advanced manufacturing software and cloud services, announced the acquisition of Gen3D, a creator of additive manufacturing (AM) design software using implicit modeling techniques. Essentially, implicit modeling is the next generation beyond what traditional boundary representation (BREP) in CAD can achieve, in terms of digitally representing the edges and surfaces of 3D shapes.

Manifold designed with Gen3D software. Image courtesy of Gen3D

Gen3D’s two flagship AM design platforms, Sulis Flow and Sulis Lattice, will be integrated directly into Altair’s widely used Inspire generative design platform. Altair already has a head start on Inspire’s ease of integration with conventional CAD platforms. The incorporation of Flow and Lattice gives Altair’s software another clear advantage in optimizing generative design software specifically for use with AM techniques.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Altair Founder and CEO James R. Scapa said, “In addition to powerful technology that helps organizations meet design challenges for [AM]the Gen3D team brings deep industry knowledge and experience in advanced additive design techniques such as generative design, topology optimization and lattice structure generation.

Gen3D was founded in 2018 by academics from the University of Bath, UK. 3DPEpisode OD from a few months ago, 3DPrint.com Editor-in-Chief Joris Peels spoke with one of the company’s founders, Joseph Flynn. Flynn said that, put simply, the software is for any application where the user’s goal is a high surface-to-volume (SAV) ratio. A high SAV ratio is perhaps the most beneficial for any process involving the diffusion of heat and/or fluids: the higher the ratio, the faster diffusion can occur. So, as Flynn also pointed out, users who design and print heat exchangers have probably had the most success with the software so far.

Concept motorcycle designed for Airbus with Altair software

For the same general reason, interest in using 3D printers to fabricate heat exchangers has grown in recent times. As is the case with many other production applications involving 3D printers, the technology allows heat exchangers to be manufactured in shapes that cannot be achieved with conventional methods. Beyond lightness, which is the most common reason why this is so advantageous, the nature of the use of heat exchangers implies other potential increases in energy efficiency by 3D printing them.

More broadly, the Altair acquisition here reiterates what months of 3D printing press releases have been a signal, that improving software could mean a huge change in momentum for the industry. Significantly improved user experience will make the adoption of AM techniques more mainstream, which will only lead to the user experience continuing to improve in the long run. The existence of this feedback loop, finally, would also be a growth driver for data regarding the use of AM.


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