Collaboration Driving Force for Inspire Unlimited’s Jump to the Cloud
Shawn Wasserman posted on July 18, 2017 |
Inspire Unlimited Platform gives users more freedom of how to access the software and how much of an investment they need to make. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

Inspire Unlimited Platform gives users more freedom of how to access the software and how much of an investment they need to make. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

Inspire Unlimited is now available, in the form of a free public Beta, to engineers around the world since it’s initial announcement and limited free trial last year.

The release will see the topology optimization and analysis computer-aided engineering (CAE) software Inspire jump into the software-as-a-service model. The tool will therefore be accessible to users on a browser over the Microsoft Azure cloud.

This will give users more options as to where, when, how and how long they want access to the software.

“People don’t always want to buy the whole license, they might not need Inspire for long,” suggested Jaideep Bangal, senior application engineer at solidThinking. “Single users, students, or small teams might not be able to afford it but need the technology. This got us started on Inspire Unlimited.”

Another key aspect to the Unlimited platform is the idea of collaboration. Users can make personas within the system that can then be added to teams and projects. At this point, multiple people will be able to work on the same project or part at the same time, concurrently optimizing the part’s topology. But how does it work?

Collaboration within Altair and solidThinking’s Unlimited Platform

Users can find similar designs to start from in the Unlimited gallery. Alternatively, they can upload their own and share it with the team. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

Users can find designs to start from in the Unlimited gallery. Alternatively, they can upload their own and share it with the team. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

Users will be able to log into the Unlimited platform using various methods, including their Facebook, LinkedIn and Google accounts.

When users load up the Inspire Unlimited platform, they will see a gallery of public CAD geometries and topology optimizations.

These parts and assemblies have all been uploaded by users and can be set to either public or private. Bangal notes that any CAD file will work in the system, including some assemblies as large as 500 parts.

From here, users will be able to open new and old projects in a variety of ways including:

  • Upload geometry from various compatible CAD platforms
  • Launch Inspire in the cloud and create a geometry from scratch
  • Open any Inspire file, be it private, shared or accessed from the gallery

When searching the gallery, users can use filters to find more recent designs, designs from specific individuals or designs built by those in certain industries or regions of the world.

These parts and assemblies can then be shared with teams and individuals within the Unlimited platform. Users can also find a part or assembly they like that is close to what they want to design and start working from there.

Users can find their colleagues in the platform and assign them to roles within a team. Users can also access different projects they are assigned to either as a team member or as an individual.

No need to jump into Inspire, work with your team and discuss the design in the previewer. Be sure to leave some comments to guide your team along the way. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

No need to jump into Inspire, work with your team and discuss the design in the previewer. Be sure to leave some comments to guide your team along the way. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

Team members can use the 3D viewer, or previewer, to look closely at each part, assembly or topology optimization. This means they can assess the part without even opening up Inspire.

Using the previewer, users can leave messages for themselves and teammates to guide each other through the development process. These messages can be in the form of text or visual callouts within the 3D model.

The tool also has a sort of messaging service that looks almost like email. “The collaboration platform allows users to leave notes for others and share the model or just the part,” said Bangal. “You’ll receive a push notification that a part is shared with you, and you can open the model directly there.”

To allow multiple users to work on the parts at the same time, you can use Unlimited to create your own versions of the geometry. From this point, any changes you make will not affect the original. If you come up with multiple ideas for how to improve the part, you can pursue these paths in separate branches created within the software filing system.

In other words, saving your own versions separates you from others working on the same project, while saving your own branches separates your various ideas on how to improve that one version of the project.

“Build a depository of many simulations,” suggested Bangal. “Then compare and choose ones you like. We keep all the history of the simulations that are there.”

Because the Unlimited platform will be a big change for solidThinking, there is bound to be a lot of chatter among users. Thus, a feedback button has been included within the Unlimited framework.

Engineers will also have access to training tools within Unlimited and Inspire. As a result, “all existing and new users don’t have to leave the environment since everything will be in one place,” explained Bangal.

So, What About Inspire? How Is It Different from Unlimited?

See everything looks the same. No need to panic. It’s still the Inspire you’re used to for topology optimization. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

See everything looks the same. No need to panic. It’s still the Inspire you’re used to for topology optimization. (Image courtesy of solidThinking.)

When a user opens a project in edit mode directly in their web browser, they will be taken to the Inspire user interface. Almost all of the workflow and technology behind the topology optimization software has remained untouched from its desktop version!

“The look and feel of Inspire on the cloud is the exact same as the desktop,” assured Bangal. “On the operations side, what we would do on the desktop is all there, and I don’t feel any difference. Assigning joints and connections and all of the smart decisions Inspire usually makes are all there.”

In terms of performance, Bangal added that “the way models rotate and move is very similar to what I feel on the desktop.”

One difference is that instead of working on a workstation, the solver can access the cloud to perform the heavy lifting. To optimize the solver time, an algorithm within Inspire assigns an appropriate amount of memory and nodes.

Bangal noted that some users will have the option to have greater control on how much of the cloud’s nodes and memory are used in a solve. This will all be dependent on licensing. In theory, there is no limit to how many nodes can be used in Azure’s cloud for the solution; however, Bangal noted that the improvements will be minimal past a dozen or so nodes. “RAM matters most for large models,” he said. “RAM dictates the speed at that point so the tool doesn’t have to write anything to hard disk.”

One of the main difference between the desktop and cloud versions of Inspire is that the saving functions have all been changed. This is because all of this function will now be handled by the Unlimited platform. However, if the engineer knows they won’t have access to the Internet, they can always download the project and work on their desktop version of Inspire.

Inspire will also remember all the user preferences by saving this information on the Unlimited server.

The Future of Altair and solidThinking Is on the Cloud?

Now that this platform is out and about, it’s safe to say that both Altair and solidThinking will be using it to its fullest potential.

As a result, Inspire is just the foot in the water. The ripples may see HyperWorks, the Altair Partner Alliance (APA) and the rest of the solidThinking portfolio on the Unlimited platform.

Expect to see much of Altair and solidThinking’s portfolio within the Unlimited platform one day. It just makes sense given the industry trends. (Image courtesy of Altair.)
Expect to see much of Altair and solidThinking’s portfolio within the Unlimited platform one day. It just makes sense given the industry trends. (Image courtesy of Altair.)
“In the future, all our other solidThinking tools may go onto this solidThinking Unlimited platform,” hinted Bangal. “This is a new door for all of us at solidThinking, Altair and the APA. In the future, nothing’s stopping us from making new applications in the platform.”

The biggest benefit for adding more of Altair and solidThinking’s tools onto Unlimited is that engineers can start to use it for their workflows. They can start to assess how the product will perform under stress using HyperWorks finite element analysis simulations or assess how to build the product with Click2Cast, Click2Form or Click2Extrude. The benefits to the user aren’t difficult to see.

This is why many other CAE software vendors are going down the platform route from Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE to Autodesk 360. “Everyone is looking forward to the next five years, and everyone is looking to get into the cloud,” said Bangal. “It’s a matter of who gets there first, efficiently and with the best simulation power packaged into it.”

To find out more on solidThinking’s Inspire Unlimited, check out this website, read “Altair solidThinking Moves to the Cloud Starting with Inspire” or try out the free public beta, here.

solidThinking has sponsored this post. They have no editorial input to this post. Unless otherwise stated, all opinions are mine. —Shawn Wasserman


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