Carbon adds new topology optimization features to 3D printing software through acquisition of ParaMatters


American 3D printer OEM Carbon has bought generative design software developer ParaMatters. This decision marks the first acquisition of the Californian specialist in photopolymer 3D printing.

The purchase of ParaMatter extends the topology optimization capabilities of Carbon’s software offering in a way that should allow users to build better products in less time. With its enhanced program portfolio, co-founder Phil DeSimone says the company will now be able to fill a gap in the market for a modern design platform that allows users to take full advantage of printing. 3D in new product iterations.

“We recognize the critical role that software design tools play in the digital transformation of our customers,” says DeSimone. “For too long, designers have been content with software design tools that respect the limitations of traditional manufacturing. Many of yesterday’s design tools are not optimized to take advantage of industry innovations, including advanced 3D printing materials and manufacturing processes.

A set of 3D printed parts designed using CogniCAD software from ParaMatters. Image via ParaMatters.

Digital light synthesis technology

California-based Carbon is a developer of 3D printers, materials, and software that revolves around its Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology. The process works by using digital light projection and oxygen permeable optics to cure polymer resins into parts. To facilitate the production of products with engineering-grade mechanical properties, the materials used with Carbon systems are typically integrated with heat-activated programmable chemistries.

The performance of Carbon’s machine portfolio, which currently includes the M1, M2, the recent M3 and L1 large format 3D printers, is also powered by its software offering. Earlier this year, the company launched the Carbon Design Engine, a program dedicated to helping automate the lattice component development process.

According to Carbon, its design engine’s powerful cloud-based calculation tools can generate advanced conformal networks in minutes, characterized by impressive impact absorption properties. With its acquisition, the company is now poised to expand its software capabilities and addressable market, with CogniCAD Paramatters users already including Google, Renishaw, Volkswagen, and more.

A fleet of Carbon 3D printers in an Oechsler factory.  Photo via Oechsler.
A fleet of Carbon 3D printers in an Oechsler factory. Photo via Oechsler.

Carbon’s expanded software offering

According to Carbon, most software platforms used for design and manufacturing tend to be programmed to meet the constraints imposed by traditional manufacturing methods. Therefore, whether designed to optimize injection molding, casting, or subtractive production processes, these programs do not allow users to iterate on products as quickly as they could with 3D printing.

In particular, the company claims that traditional CAD and CAE tools are “heavy and inefficient” while being “poorly integrated with each other”. As these tools are specifically optimized for use with additive manufacturing, Carbon also claims that they require a high level of expertise to operate and ultimately lead to waste.

As such, the company considers its acquisition as a way to meet a market need. Building on the Carbon Design Engine, the company’s purchase of Paramatters has expanded its software’s topology optimization capabilities. It is believed that this will unlock the automated creation of more complex and better performing parts.

In practice, the company’s revised program is expected to feature a five-step workflow that takes users through design analysis, validation, and CT scan stages in a way that should improve the manufacturability of rooms. With the addition of ParaMatters’ technology, Carbon believes its software’s post-production manufacturing, inspection and simulation features could also open up opportunities for part consolidation.

“Software is the backbone of our platform from idea to production, and we believe the generative design capabilities of ParaMatters are a key extension of our design software,” adds Craig Carlson, CTO of Carbon . “By expanding our software capabilities optimized for additive manufacturing, we are empowering a generation of designers and developers to create better end-use products with advanced geometries and improved performance characteristics.”

Workflow from Carbon and ParaMatters design to manufacturing.  Image via Carbon.
From design to manufacturing of Carbon and ParaMatters. Image via Carbon.

With topology optimization software, users can quickly iterate designs based on defined sets of parameters for various manufacturing processes, and the technology also continues to gain traction in 3D printing. nTopology’s generative design platform, for example, which allows users to circumvent the limitations of conventional design tools, is set to be bolstered by new DFAM engineering tools.

Another option for those looking for an accessible way to experience designs that reduce weight, increase structural integrity, and extend durability at a discount, there’s also the Generative Design Extension for Autodesk Fusion 360. Just like the software from ParaMatters, the program is marketed as being able to enable parts consolidation while identifying materials and other cost saving opportunities.

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The featured image shows a set of 3D printed parts designed using ParaMatters’ CogniCAD software. Image via ParaMatters.

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