Blending Geometry with Physics
Every physical quantity can be described as a field: the geometry of a solid body, the value of a design parameter, simulation results, experimental measurements, engineering or manufacturing data…
nTopology gives you the unique capability to overlay different types of fields and use them to generate complex part geometry with complete control.
For example, you can use a field to control the beam size of a lattice, the diameter and location of every hole in a perforation pattern, the density of a 3D printed foam, the wall thickness of a shell, the roughness of a surface texture, the width and spacing of structural ribs, and much more.
Field-Driven Design for Engineering & Product Development
Field-Driven Design offers an intelligent trade-off between flexibility and simplicity. Applying this generative methodology can lead your product development process to directions that you could have never imagined on day one.
Select suitable fields to drive your designs. Closely control as many parameters as you need to take advantage of the design freedom of advanced manufacturing technologies. Create robust frameworks to manage complexity.
Fields are the Gradients of Geometry
Engineering information is rarely constant or uniform. Field-Driven Design is a convenient way to manipulate and control complex geometry in every single point in space in ways that are otherwise impossible.
Think of fields as the gradients of 3D geometry. The same way that gradients let you create smooth transitions of color from one point to another, Field-Driven Design enables you to use physical information to engineer parts that have exactly the behavior that you want, where you want it.
Reimagining the Combustion Engine Cylinder using Field Driven Design
Instead of fins, the engineers of Cobra Aero opted for a lattice structure as the heat transfer medium for their military-grade UAV drone engine. To optimize its performance they combined results from multiphysics simulations to spatially vary the thickness and density of the lattice.
This whitepaper describes the general concepts of Field-Driven Design, how to create and use fields in nTopology, and how to use this unique design methodology to unlock new applications.
Design Transformative Products
See for yourself why leading companies have chosen nTopology to tackle hard engineering and advanced manufacturing problems.
FAQ on Field-Driven Design
What is a field?
A field associates a value to each point of 3D space. In engineering, fields are used to represent spatial variations of physical quantities, like temperature, stresses, or flow velocity. For design and 3D modeling applications, these values are usually scalar numbers, in which case we have scalar fields. Tensor fields, vector fields, and boolean fields are also used in many engineering and design applications. You can use basic math operations — addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division — to modify existing fields or create more complex interactions between them.
How are fields used in nTopology?
nTopology is the only engineering design software that enables you to apply a Field-Driven Design approach. In nTopology, CAD geometry, meshes, planes, and points are all represented as distance fields. Simulation results, experimental measurements, and other imported engineering or manufacturing data are also examples of fields that you can use to drive your designs. nTopology gives you the tools to manipulate these different types of fields and use them as inputs to generate and control advanced modeling operations or drive advanced manufacturing processes.
What are some applications of Field-Driven Design?
Field-Driven Design is a radically different approach to engineering. It enables you to follow a top-down generative design process. For example, you can use simulation results of stress analysis to drive the beam thickness of a lattice — increasing the thickness where stresses are higher. When experimental or empirical data are available, you can use these measurements to directly drive your designs. Or you can use fields to create smooth transitions between two different surface textures or perforation patterns on a consumer product.
Is Field-Driven Design the same as Parametric Design?
No. Parametric design in traditional CAD systems can only describe simple and uniform relations between geometric features, while in Field-Driven Design the values of parameters can vary through space as needed. For example, in parametric design, you have a parameter that specifies the diameter of holes in a perforation pattern, while in Field-Driven Design you define a rule that uses certain inputs to dictate how the diameters must vary in every single point in space. Field-Driven Design gives you a level of control that is impossible with parametric design.
Is Field-Driven Design the same as Computational Design?
Like computational design, Field-Driven Design uses algorithmic processes to generate new 3D geometry. Yet, fields offer a more convenient way to represent and overlay different types of engineering data than the parameters used in computational design. Additionally, most computational design software tools are tailored for architectural or design applications, while Field-Driven Design with nTopology addresses the needs of engineering, manufacturing, and advanced product development.
Does Field-Driven Design help with Generative Design?
Yes. In a typical generative design process, the guiding algorithm drives the model towards some desired goal state. A Field-Driven Design approach provides the algorithm with a rich set of parameters that can be used to modify the design and explore more effectively the available design space.
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