You Need to Optimize That!

Inspire 2017

[Monthly Partner Product Spotlight]

Written for DASI Solutions by solidThinking: Inspire

High-end engineering optimization tools have been around for a good part of the past three decades, however, these tools were often highly complex and used by only a small group of highly specialized engineers. Recently a new breed of optimization and analysis tools led by solidThinking Inspire have emerged.

From its initial creation, the team at solidThinking Inspire has had a tireless focus on not only the technology and accuracy of the tool, but an equal focus on the user interface and making the tool as easy as possible to learn and use. The team at solidThinking’s goal is to place high-end (but easy-to-use) tools in the hands of designers and design engineers who work in the early concept phases of design.

Using simulation and optimization software up front in the design process yields many positive results. Where the traditional design and validation process involves many iteration loops and redesigns when parts do not pass testing, using Inspire up-front can limit, or even eliminate these iteration loops altogether. Inspire does this by generating the ideal structural part design based on all of the applied loading conditions. This often yields in a faster design process, reduced part mass, increased part performance, and lower costs.

The Design Process

Using solidThinking Inspire is extremely easy, the standard training session for the software lasts only 4 hours. If you are interested in trying out Inspire, you can request a trial here –

Inspire is being used worldwide by hundreds of companies in industries such as aerospace, automotive, heavy machinery, consumer products, architecture, and more. But to explain the Inspire design process, let’s use a fun (non-scientific) example.

Pretend for a moment that we are a company tasked with designing a new (or replacement) bracket that just happens to look like one of our favorite 1980s video game heroes.

  1. In the first step of the design process, we must sketch or import a part. Inspire has built in sketching and geometry tools that you can use to create your design space, but many users prefer to design their part in their preferred CAD tool. Inspire makes it easy to import parts from all major CAD tools. Our basic sketch below was created inside of Inspire.
    Sketch or Import Part
  2. Next we will apply fasteners, joints, materials, and all of the loading conditions that our “bracket” will incur during its use.
    Applying loads
  3. Now we set up the optimization run selecting our goals (min mass or mass stiffness) and run the actual optimization.
    Set Up the Optimization
  4. Inspire then generates the ideal part design to support these loads. Kind of scary looking in this case, but as you can see, our “bracket” was significantly overdesigned. Using this new optimized concept as our starting point will significantly reduce the part’s mass, and likely decrease costs as less material will be needed.
    Ideal Part Design
  5. Finally, we need to refine the part into something more manufacturable. Inspire has built-in tools to easily do this, or you can export the optimization out to your CAD tool and refine it there.
  6. As an optional step, you can even use Inspire’s built in linear static analysis tools to determine if the part will perform well under all conditions. This virtual verification can help to save you significant time and money producing and testing physical prototypes.
    Linear Static Analysis of Part
  7. Finally, you can manufacture the part. Many inspire users employ additive manufacturing as their preferred manufacturing method, but Inspire also has built-in tools to design specifically for extrusion, casting, and more.

To see a more complex example with videos of each step, check out the Inspire landing page here –

Okay, so we had a little fun with the above example, but Inspire is a serious design tool. Now that Inspire has been around for a number of years, numerous companies are utilizing it to optimize and increase the performance of their parts. Alstom, for example, recently used Inspire to optimize a component on one of its trains. The newly designed part from Inspire helped the team to reduce the part mass by close to 70%.

Reducing Part Mass by 70%

Please feel free to take a deeper look at this customer story and a number of other customer success stories here –


Inspire is helping companies to redefine their design process by putting an extremely powerful design and engineering tool in the hands of concept-phase designers and design engineers. No matter what industry you are in, it is worth exploring as it can help you to design faster, smarter, and stronger.


***Please note that DASI Solutions is a reseller of solidThinking Inspire in Arizona and Califormia.***

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