Materialise and nTop collaborate to accelerate design-to-manufacturing process for complex parts

June 27, 2024

The collaboration has seen the production of a high-performance, additively manufactured cylinder head for technology group Wärtsilä (Courtesy nTop)
The collaboration has seen the production of a high-performance, additively manufactured cylinder head for technology group Wärtsilä (Courtesy nTop)

Materialise, based in Leuven, Belgium, and nTop, headquartered in New York City, USA, are collaborating to integrate nTop Core, nTop’s implicit modelling API, with Materialise’s Magics 3D Print Suite and NxG Build Processor. The move is intended to allow manufacturers to accelerate the entire design-to-manufacturing process and enable the production of complex parts that were previously impossible to manufacture.

The collaboration has already demonstrated success in producing a high-performance, additively manufactured cylinder head for technology group Wärtsilä, significantly enhancing cooling performance and reducing weight by 60% (see below).

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This partnership is reported to solve a common problem for complex, high-performance designs by enabling implicit design files to be exchanged between design and manufacturing teams and natively processed for production without meshing or other intermediate processes. In turn, this allows engineering teams to design higher-performance parts with more features and capabilities while assuring they can be produced precisely and economically.

nTop has developed a new implicit modelling kernel and corresponding file format that can characterise highly complex, high-performance geometries at a fraction of the size of traditional CAD or mesh-based files. Until now, high-performance product designs created in nTop could not be natively processed by Magics, requiring time-consuming translations for build preparation and production.

Materialise’s NxG Build Processor is configurable software that translates large and complex 3D design files into additively manufacturable instructions, optimising and managing the Additive Manufacturing process from start to finish. By integrating nTop’s design software with Materialise’s Magics and NxG Build Processor, these designs can be easily transferred natively to Materialise Magics for fast, high-quality build preparation and slicing.

Additively manufactured cylinder head for Wärtsilä

Materialise and nTop collaborated with Nikon SLM to produce a high-performance cylinder head for Wärtsilä. On its journey to enable carbon-neutral shipping and energy production, Wärtsilä explored innovative designs to optimise the cooling performance of the cylinder head, achieving 60% weight reduction compared to the original design.

This new design also allowed the integration of up to ten subsystems into the final component, reducing assembly complexity and improving cooling performance. Previously, the design complexity and file size of this design made it impossible to additively manufacture the part the part using conventional large-scale AM technologies. However, by combining nTop’s design software with Materialise’s Magics and NxG Build Processor, based on implicit modelling, it became possible to additively manufacture the part. The final design was built in Inconel 718 by Nikon SLM, using what is reportedly the largest metal AM machine on the market.

“At Materialise, we understand that the future of Additive Manufacturing hinges on the ability to efficiently process highly complex files for high-performance parts,” said Udo Eberlein, Vice President of Software at Materialise. “If our industry cannot keep pace with the growing demands for intricate designs and larger build sizes, it becomes impossible to unlock the full potential of new AM applications. Our collaboration with nTop represents a significant step forward in breaking these barriers. By combining nTop’s implicit modelling kernel with Magics and our Next Gen Build Processor, we are enabling faster, more reliable design-to-manufacture workflows, paving the way for innovations that were once deemed impossible.”

“At nTop, we are committed to advancing the power of computational design to production — which is why I’m so excited about our partnership with Materialise and integration of nTop implicit models into Magics for manufacturing,” Bradley Rothenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of nTop, shared. “This enables our mutual customers to streamline the manufacturing of their most complex designs.”

Early Access Program

Materialise and nTop have launched an Early Access Program to accelerate the adoption of high-performance geometries in Additive Manufacturing. Aimed at users pushing the boundaries of this technology, the programme allows participants to tackle challenges, helping them enhance design-to-manufacturing workflows and overall performance. Phase 1, starting in Q3 2024, will invite 10 companies, with an additional 20 companies joining in Q1 2025. Participants will benefit from faster, higher-quality build preparation by integrating nTop’s implicit modelling API within the Materialise Magics 3D Print Suite, eliminating time-consuming implicit-to-mesh conversions and streamlining the Additive Manufacturing process.

“Nikon SLM Solutions is excited to be the first early access partner for the new Materialise Build Processor that natively prepares builds for our NXG XII 600 directly from nTop,” said Nicolas Lemaire, Software Product Manager at Nikon SLM Solutions. “While Nikon SLM focuses on making the NXG XII 600 the most productive AM solution with a build rate of 1000 ccm/hr, we are evaluating how the integration between nTop and Materialise can streamline the design-to-production process.”

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