Develop3D Reviews solidThinking Inspire 2014

Traditional simulation tools are ideal when you have very specific ideas to explore but when you want to look at new options, they’re inappropriate. Al Dean delves into the latest release of solidThinking Inspire that addresses this shortcoming.


SolidThinking Inspire has been on the market for a good few years. It offers an easy to use environment for designers and engineers to take advantage of FEA-driven optimisation to find new avenues for design exploration, without the overhead of traditional simulation systems.

It does this by hiding much of the technology behind a very easy to use interface that allows you to build models and studies quickly and iterate through options to find inspiration for your design direction — hence, presumably, the name.

Inspire works on the basis of using a varying set of geometry. These are typically either modelled from scratch or imported from a CAD system.

It’ll load data in the usual standard formats, such as IGES and STEP, but also Catia, JT, Parasolid, Pro/Engineer or Creo, SolidWorks and NX. Once the data is in, then you need to start to work with it.

Previous releases of Inspire have done a good job of bringing data in from your CAD system or letting you model basic forms from scratch.

The issue has always been that while the ‘from scratch’ modelling tools were perfect for just that, if your imported geometry wasn’t exactly what you needed, there wasn’t too much support for making quick edits to knock it into shape. This has been a particular focus for the 2014 release.

In the first and most basic instance, this means that you have the now familiar tools for pushing and pulling faces of solid geometry into the position you want — select the face, drag the handles and you’re done. There are also tools for cleaning up solid geometry.

From selecting faces and deleting them, to identification of pockets and such. These are ideal when you’ve got a specific set of geometry you want to optimise. The goal here being that you’re looking to reduce the mass of a component, but only have areas that can be changed or reworked.

This allows you to grab geometry (such as cut outs in spar like components) and use those as separate design spaces for optimisation, which we’ll explore next.

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