Free SOLIDWORKS Plug-in for Topology Optimization
Shawn Wasserman posted on September 22, 2015 |
Image courtesy of professor Krishnan Suresh, The University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Image courtesy of professor Krishnan Suresh, The University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has just released a free topology optimization plug-in for SOLIDWORKS. The software, named ParetoWorks, will determine the least amount of material a part needs to handle specific loads. First released in 2013, the new web-based version will operate in the cloud.

"Design optimization lies at the heart of modern engineering," said mechanical engineering professor Krishnan Suresh. "It is critical in reducing cost, reducing material, reducing weight and increasing quality, and is a driving force behind innovation. [However], design optimization can be very tricky, and difficult for humans to carry out manually."

Suresh explained that the software is very fast at determining the ideal topologies of a product. He said, "We believe our tools are more robust, have wider applicability and are significantly faster than competing software and human design.”

ParetoWorks will operate within the SOLIDWORKS framework, is based on cloud technology and is available through web-based access. Suresh noted that, “ParetoWorks makes it very easy for SOLIDWORKS users to carry out topology optimization, within the comfort of their CAD environment. Cloudtopt makes it possible for engineers to leverage cloud computing for finite element analysis and optimization. We've been getting a lot of positive feedback.”

Suresh’s research team took four years to develop ParetoWorks. The research to produce the software was partially funded by Autodesk. As a result, it is curious that the software is released on SOLIDWORKS as opposed to AutoCAD or Autodesk Simulation.

Even more curious is that Suresh hopes to commercialize the software into a spinoff company, something that might be difficult if the software is already released for free. How will the users react when their free software asks for a paid license?

However, perhaps there is another avenue for profit? The software itself seems reminiscent in concept to SolidThinking’s Inspire, discussed in a previous article. Current CAE industry trends suggest that Altair’s SolidThinking or another CAD or CAE company could be interested acquiring ParetoWorks for its differing technological solution to the same problem.

“In concept, these tools are similar to Altair Inspire,” said Suresh. “However, the underlying technology is quite different, and our users are very impressed.” So perhaps an acquisition will be Suresh’s payoff?

Have you tried ParetoWorks and other topology optimization software? How did they compare? Answer below.


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