Self-Training Guide

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Objective:

If you are new to nTop or looking to solidify the basics, this article is the place to start. Follow along to go through a series of recommended articles and tutorials to get up and running at your own pace. If you want to skip ahead, select the heading to jump to that section. 

Set Up

User Interface

First Worklow

Importing Geometry

Basic workflow with Imported Parts

Build a Custom Block

Working with CAD Parts

Creating Lattices

Ramps and Field Driven Design

Exporting

Meshing

Preparing for Analysis

Running a Simulation

Topology Optimization

Texturing

 

1. Get set up and download the program

Before downloading nTopology take a look at the System Requirements to make sure your machine can run the program. 

Watch this video to learn how to set up your nTopology account, download the latest release of the program, and install the software. 

If you are having issues with this step, check out the Licensing Guide and the  Account Troubleshooting Guide. If problems still persist, write a Support Ticket and our Support Team will help you get it sorted out. 

 

2. The User Interface

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Let's take a tour of the User Interface by watching this video. Next, it's time to learn some details about blocks. The first video describes how blocks function and how to use them, while the second video teaches you about their properties and potential error messages. 

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3. First workflow

Get familiar with the User Interface and basic blocks by creating your first workflow and lightweighting your workflow. 

4. Importing geometry

Watch this video to learn the different methods of importing data and geometry into nTop. 

nTopology is capable of importing many types of design, engineering, and simulation data. This article is a summary of the file types we support.

5. Build a basic workflow with imported parts

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Once you feel comfortable with the User Interface and using some basic operations, it's time to create a basic workflow using some imported geometry. Follow this video to create a shelled and filled part using Toolkits. 

What's a Toolkit? A toolkit is a built-in Custom block (a collection of blocks working together) that make repeatable processes faster and simpler. You can create your own Custom blocks and import them into the program. Curious as to what operations the Toolkit is running? Right-click on one and select 'Export Toolkit' to open up the nTop Notebook. 

Next, let's take a look at repeating this workflow using standard blocks instead of Toolkits. Using standard blocks gives you more control over the process, allowing you to learn more about all the steps involved. It's very useful to understand the underlying building blocks before creating your own Custom block. 

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6. Turn the basic workflow into a repeatable workflow (build a custom block)

Now that you feel comfortable with our shelled and filled workflow, let's turn our workflow into a Custom block by following this tutorial. This process can be replicated for any workflow you create, enabling you to package complex processes into a simple block. 

For further practice, take a look at chapter 3 for how to create a custom block and modify one:

7. Working with CAD parts

We imported and worked with CAD parts in the previous lessons. These tutorials cover the same methods but dive a little deeper into how to work with CAD parts.

CAD bodies can be converted into our Implicit data type easily, shown in this article. Once a part is converted into an Implicit format a wider range of operations can be applied to it.

Some workflows only require the surface of a CAD part as an input. When multiple CAD faces need to be selected and joined into a single surface, this workflow may be used.

8. Creating lattices

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Lattices are a powerful tool in nTop and we can do many processes with them, as seen in the Shell and Fill example. 

Surface lattices (conformal lattices) can be built from CAD faces directly, as shown here. We can use the same workflow to easily create an example of structural ribbing. It's possible to create stochastic surface lattices, shown here. This workflow can be paired with surface texturing workflows and the ramping block, shown in further sections. 

Learn a new method of creating lattices by using Beta blocks. This lesson introduces the new workflow for you, which is different from the previous examples we've seen here. Take a look at additional Beta blocks in this article and this one

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9. Using ramps and field-driven design 

Variable properties, such as dimensions, may be applied to geometries using the Ramp Block. This article introduces the Ramp Block in greater detail. For example, point spacing can be driven geometrically using the Ramp Block, shown here, as well as lattice thickness that is driven by field data in this example

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10. Exporting geometry

Now that we understand how to use quite a few processes, it's time to learn how to export that geometry out of nTop. This lesson teaches you the main methods of exporting your parts. 

This article summarizes the types of files nTop can output. Meshes are a common type and we can export STL, OBJ, 3MF, or PLY formats. Learn how to mesh and export Implicit bodies in this tutorial

When possible, we recommend slicing the Implicit Body directly and sending the slices to your printer. This tutorial shows you how to slice your geometry and export the slices in a number of formats.

nTopology is also capable of exporting Implicit or Mesh parts to STEP or Parasolid formats. Topology optimization workflows produce the most useful results, but the same process applies to more complex geometry as well. An example is shown here. Keep in mind that exceedingly faceted geometry and periodic structures are challenging for STEP and Parasolid file formats.

11. Meshing techniques

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Before moving on to more advanced topics, like Simulation and Topology Optimization, it's important to learn and understand the best methods for meshing your part. Depending on the complexity, features, and size, the methods you choose for meshing may differ. 

If you've never worked with a mesh before, go here. After that, go through these articles in the following order: 

12. Preparing for analysis

Take a look at this article to understand the steps for running an analysis in nTopology. To prepare for an analysis, start by creating Finite Element Mesh (FE Mesh) and a Finite Element Model (FE Model). These are the stepping stones for Simulation and Topology Optimization. 

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13. Running a simulation

Once the FE Mesh and FE Model are created, you have to select regions of the FE Mesh to choose the areas where Boundary Conditions are acting upon. Take a look at this article for more information on using the other selection method, FE Boundary by Flood Fill. 

In this tutorial, you learn how to perform a static analysis starting with an FE Model and Boundary Conditions. This example will show you how to use the results of the static analysis in your part geometry. 

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14. Topology Optimization

Topology Optimization (TopOpt) is a numerical design operation that determines the optimal shape of a part based on a set of objectives and constraints. TopOpt allows the user to design geometries that best achieve the desired objective while considering complex and multivariate design constraints. Learn how to run a TopOpt in this tutorial.

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15. Introduction to texturing 

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nTopology has an unprecedented range of tools to produce unique, field-driven surface textures. For example, this article shows how to create a Voronoi Surface Texture on chosen CAD faces. This next tutorial creates a knurled texture. 

 

 

If you've followed along to this point, we hope you have a solid foundation in nTop Platform and are ready to go and explore. Be sure to check out the Knowledge Base and nTop Live content to get inspired by what you can create!

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