The promises of 3D printing can’t be fully recognized with legacy manufacturing design technologies. That’s the driving principle behind New York City tech startup nTopology’s generative design software, nTop Platform. “Manufacturing has gone through the most profound shift in 100 years,” said nTopology’s cofounder and CEO Bradley Rothenberg. “We developed nTop as the first engineering software to maximize the 3D printing process.”

To help continue their rollout of the platform, which was launched in 2019, nTopology today announced its latest funding, a $40 million Series C round. Led by Insight Partners and joined by Grant Verstandig and the company’s existing venture partners Root, Canaan, DCVC and Haystack, the new round raises the firm’s total funding to $71 million. The company also announced that Josh Fredberg, Operating Partner at Insight Partners, is joining the nTopology Board of Directors.

The fresh capital will help the company get its design software into the hands of more engineers, to help expand the foothold it’s already established at firms such as Lockheed Martin
LMT
. “You have a totally different manufacturing process in 3D printing,” Rothenberg explained. “You’re creating the shape and the material at the same time. It gives new degrees of freedom and complexity, and you need a new method of design to take advantage of that. Old design technology is built around producing drawings. Ours is built on new modeling software, an implicit modeling engine specifically designed for mechanical engineering applications.”

The advantages of that were demonstrated recently in nTopology’s work with Sierra Turbines, a manufacturer of microturbine engines used in applications such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The two companies partnered with Velo3D to showcase the benefits of generative design and 3D printing. nTop Platform was used in conjunction with Velo3D’s Sapphire metal 3D printer to produce a complete new design for the Sierra Turbines Aurelius Mk1 microturbine. “Velo3D allowed us to optimize the turbine core as one single part,” Rothenberg said. “It has no seals or gaskets, so we eliminated those potential failure points.”

nTop Platform allowed the design team to model different materials virtually rather than building numerous prototypes. “The design process allows the study of using different materials,” said Rothenberg. “You can optimize your construction material before you produce your first part. And even during production, upgrading with a new material is like loading a software update – you just make a quick tweak and boom! It’s just like version control.”

That revolution in modeling is a key advantage for nTop Platform. “One thing that’s happening is the speed of innovation,” said Duann Scott, nTopology’s VP of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships. “Even using CAD systems, you’d have to design, simulate, then design again, and you might get 150 iterations done over two days. With nTop Platform, we can run 3,000 tests in an hour.”

The results of that application speak for themselves. The new design’s gas turbine core, now a single piece, replaces 61 individual parts in the old design. The design delivered tighter tolerances and an increased thrust-to-weight ratio. And Sierra projects much greater turbine reliability, with an estimated 40x increase in time between overhauls.

While aerospace and medical have been in the forefront of taking advantage of the 3D printing revolution, nTopology sees coming opportunities in automotive, consumer products and education, to name but a few additional potential markets. “There’s a platform shift happening,” said Rothenberg. “We’re moving from less sustainable to more sustainable across the board – for example, gas to electric cars. 3D printing enables that shift, and generative design enables 3D printing. If you want to see where the growth is happening, look at where metal 3D printing is and where it isn’t. It’s like the canary in the coal mine.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.