Next-Generation Engineering Design Software

Thermal Management


Today’s high-powered, electrified, and digitally-controlled products place higher demands on thermal management systems. Yet, we have squeezed all the efficiency from traditional heat exchangers. nTopology gives you tools to design with additive manufacturing.
Thermal Management

What is Thermal Management?

Thermal management is the engineering discipline that focuses on the transfer of heat. Thermal engineers develop products that recuperate and transform thermal energy into more useful forms or remove excess heat from critical components. At the core of every thermal management system lies a heat exchanger. Heat exchangers transfer thermal energy from a hot to a cold region. There are many different types of heat exchangers. Heat sinks, oil coolers, cold plates, and radiators are all examples of heat exchangers.

Benefits of High-Performance Heat Exchangers

Effective thermal management ensures that products perform safely and efficiently, extending their operational lifetime and reliability. Combining additive manufacturing with advanced engineering design software enables you to develop compact heat exchangers with superior performance and reliability.

  • Increase Performance

Computational design and additive manufacturing technologies enable you to design heat exchangers that maximize heat transfer and minimize pressure drop.

  • Reduce Size & Weight

New heat exchangers provide higher heat transfer performance at the same or reduced overall size and weight to fit existing systems.

  • Extend Operational Life

Aircraft fleets, industrial machinery, and other high-value assets can be retrofitted with modern thermal management systems to keep them in the field longer.

  • Improve System Reliability

Consolidating an assembly into a single additively manufactured component with no welding, brazing, or joining minimizes the potential points of failure.

Industry Applications of Thermal Management

High-performance heat exchangers find applications in aircraft and road vehicles, industrial facilities and energy production, electronics cooling, and precision manufacturing.

Automotive Industry

close up of batteries charging in electric vehicle

From battery cooling sleeves to cold plates for power electronics, electric vehicles create new thermal management challenges for automotive engineers.

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Aerospace Industry

jet engine close up

Aerospace engineers need to balance heat transfer performance with weight and size requirements to tackle the increased energy efficiency and computational power demands.

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Industrial Heat Exchangers

aerial view of industrial power plant energy at night

The energy production, precision manufacturing, and semiconductor industries are sectors that can benefit significantly from the increased efficiency of advanced heat transfer systems.

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Thermal Management Case Studies

The benefits of advanced heat exchangers go beyond technical specifications. Here is how companies are applying advanced thermal management techniques to create business value.


cold plate with gyroid flow guides

Puntozero designed a cold plate for automotive power electronics that was 25% lighter. The bioinspired flow guides increase the heat transfer area by 300%.

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Cobra Aero

air-cooled cylinder for their UAV drone by cobra aero

Cobra Aero brought to production an air-cooled cylinder for their UAV drone that weighs only a fraction of the weight of their lightest competitors.

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KW Micro Power

housing of their aircraft APU turbine by kw micro power

KW Micro Power redesigned the housing of their aircraft APU turbine. The embedded cooling channels reduced the maximum temperature by 33%.

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The anatomy of a 3D-printed heat exchanger

Heat exchangers may vary in type, shape, and size, but their basic layout is the same. Here are the essential elements of an additive manufactured heat exchanger.

figure of the anatomy of an additively manufactured heat exchanger

The Body

The shape of a heat exchanger depends on the available design space. The traditional forms still provide high performance, but there is more freedom in their external dimensions.

The Core

The core of the heat exchanger is typically filled with a lattice. TPMS structures, like the gyroid, yield the best results for liquid-to-liquid heat exchangers.

Piping & Plenums

Inlet and outlet piping and plenums gradually introduce the flow into the heat exchanger and act as a pressurized buffer zone. Their geometry can be optimized using CFD data.


Baffles are used to prevent the cold and hot flows from mixing. They are typically introduced at the entrance and exit of the core.

photograph of 3D-printed heat exchanger in cross section

Is your software ready for additive manufacturing?

You can only reap the benefits of additive manufacturing for thermal management if you have the right engineering design tools.

The same way traditional manufacturing processes restrict your ability to produce advanced structures for high-performance heat exchangers, traditional engineering software limits your ability to design them.

Why Use nTopology for Thermal Design?

nTopology is the most powerful engineering design software for additive manufacturing. It gives you tools with incredible depth to control and finetune 3D-printed heat exchangers. It also helps you save time through reusable processes and design automation, enabling you to spend more time engineering rather than manually editing features.

Critical Tools for Thermal Design

TPMS & Lattice Structures

screenshot of additive manufactured heat exchanger in nTopology

Lattice generation is scalable to billions of elements. Create lattices with variable thickness and smooth transitions. Add surface patterns to induce turbulence and increase heat transfer.

Simulation-Driven Design

screenshot of GPU heat sink in nTopology

Control the location, density, and orientation of flow and thermal guides using thermal maps or flow fields. Generate virtual baffles to control the flow without overly restricting it.

Integrated Thermal FEA

screenshot of engine cylinder heat sink in nTopology

Quickly gauge the thermal performance of heat exchangers and surrounding components with built-in linear, non-linear, steady-state, and transient thermal and thermal-stress simulation tools.

CFD & MDO Interoperability

screenshot of industrial liquid mixer in nTopology

Generate new designs and connect them to CFD tools for rapid iteration or validation. Run computational Design of Experiments using your Multidisciplinary Design Optimization tool of choice.

Turn nTopology’s core tech into your competitive advantage

Implicit Modeling

A fundamentally different and unbreakable modeling technology that delivers unprecedented speed, scalability, and reliability.

Why is it important?

  • Generate the most complex lattice and TPMS structures in seconds.
  • Preview design changes in real-time with GPU acceleration.

animation of live editing a gyroid heat sink

Field-Driven Design

A new design method that enables you to control geometry at every point in space directly from simulation results, test data, and engineering formulas.

Why is it important?

  • Optimize for pressure drop & recirculation from CFD simulations.
  • Use thermal FEA to generate structures that maximize conduction.

Blocks & Codeless Automation

A block-based approach to design automation that allows you to speed up design iterations and package engineering processes.

Why is it important?

  • Quickly test new ideas during design exploration.
  • Create parametric models and systematic DoEs to identify optimal design.

Thermal Management

Augment your Engineering Software Stack

nTopology integrates with industry-leading PLM, MDO, design, and manufacturing tools to support all aspects of your product development process. Through robust import and export capabilities, you can closely couple advanced geometry generation with design analysis, verification, and manufacturing.

Trusted by World-Class Teams

“Solving a generative design problem shouldn’t require engineers to run ‘set it and forget it’ computations. It should be as instantaneous as punching numbers in the calculator. This is the pain point. This is the frustration that nTopology can eliminate, with computations that run in mere minutes, not days.”
SJ Jones
Applications Engineer, Siemens Energy

“When there are no fixed and tested engineering workflows, multi-objective optimization is challenging. The power and flexibility of nTopology enabled us to manage the complexity of the DfAM process and grasp the concrete advantages of additive manufacturing.”
Francesco Leonardi
Co-Founder, Puntozero

“With nTopology, we’re able to take the technology to the next level and design products that are truly optimized for their purpose and that can only be manufactured with AM.”
Thomas Westersø
R&D Engineer, DTI

“nTopology is enabling engineers to do what they’re good at — designing efficient structures; which is in a way the essence of DfAM. The software abstracts away the non-value-added work commonplace in today’s digital workflows and lets designers and engineers focus on real, system-level innovation.”John Barnes
Founder & Managing Director, The Barnes Global Advisors

Thermal Management

Manufacturing has advanced.
What about your software?

Get started with nTopology today. Experience the power of the world’s most innovative engineering design software for advanced manufacturing.


What is Thermal Design?

Thermal design is the engineering discipline that leverages different modes of heat transfer to develop thermal management solutions. Thermal design is necessary to ensure the reliable operation of electronics, improve energy efficiency in aircraft and road vehicles, and minimize losses in industrial facilities and powerplants.

Is nTopology used only for Additive Manufacturing?

No. nTopology’s advanced generative capabilities and computational tools can be applied to design any complex part— 3D-printed or not. For example, optimized flow guide fins and perforation or dimple patterns can be produced with CNC machining, casting, or injection molding. Moreover, 3D-printed parts may be low in number, but they’re high in value, so using specialized software can quickly bring a return on your investment.

What data can be imported & exported in nTopology?

nTopology supports the import and export of CAD geometry, meshes, FEA and CAE data, lattices, point clouds, voxels, and tabulated data. You can also export slice data for additive manufacturing in vendor-specific and open formats. For an overview of the importing and exporting capabilities of the software, visit our Help Center.

Where can I learn more about thermal management?

nTopology is a company of engineers, designers, and innovators. Over the years, our experts have developed content on cutting-edge engineering design. The technical articles in our blog cover technical topics and practical thermal management design techniques. Our nTop Lives show you how to apply these techniques in specific industrial use cases. Once you have access to our software, our Learning Center features self-paced tutorials that will guide you in your journey to becoming an nTop expert.

Thermal management resources for engineers & designers

Screenshot of generative design workflows from CFD fields
in nTopology

nTop Live: Generative Design Workflows from CFD fields

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Screenshot of CFD Driven Heat Exchanger Fin Orientation
in nTopology

nTop Live: CFD Driven Heat Exchanger Fin Orientation

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Screenshot of Plate Heat Exchanger designed with Additive Manufacturing in nTopology

Plate Heat Exchanger: Made Better with Additive Manufacturing

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Thermal Management Guide

Download the guide to learn how you can combine additive manufacturing with advanced engineering design software to develop more efficient and compact heat exchangers.

Thermal Management

Ready for the next step?

See for yourself why leaders in aerospace, automotive, medical, and consumer industries depend on nTopology to develop revolutionary products.

Thermal Management