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Interview: nTopology eyes expansion with $20 million investment

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Following the launch of its nTop Platform in July 2019, New York-based computational modeling software developer nTopology has gained significant momentum in the advanced manufacturing industry. Most recently, the company raised $20 million in funding, which will enable it to scale its business and offering.

In the midst of the company’s exciting growth period, we caught up with nTopology CEO Brad Rothenberg to discuss the company’s position in additive manufacturing and how its sophisticated nTop Platform is drawing interest from all corners of the manufacturing world.

nTopology was founded by Rothenberg in 2015, as he set out to find a design software solution that was specifically tailored to the needs of advanced manufacturing. Today, the company is recognized as one of the leading software providers for generative, field-driven design and AM workflows.

“I got into this in an interesting way,” Rothenberg explains. “I’ve been programming in CAD systems since high school, and the issue has always been that CAD tools were designed in a time before advanced manufacturing; they were built for drawings and drafting. I was researching computational geometry and working on a program for 3D printing high-energy laser mirrors and immediately ran into a lot of limitations in existing CAD tools. That’s how I started nTopology.”

nTopology’s nTop engineering software, which combines generative design (lattices, topology optimization, etc.), workflow management and production preparation, is bridging the limitations of existing CAD programs for the advanced manufacturing sector. A number of high-profile customers, including Lockheed Martin, Daimler, Disney and the U.S. Department of Defense, are already seeing the benefits of its capabilities.

nTopology Brad Rothenberg Interview
Brad Rothenberg, Founder and CEO of nTopology

Funding to grow

With its recent $20 million investment—raised in a funding round led by early-stage VC firm Canaan—nTopology will accelerate its growth with a focus on expanding its customer base. To date, the company has raised $31 million.

“We’re scaling up across the board—our customer base, our product into other advanced manufacturing technologies, and our team—to match demand in the industry,” Rothenberg says.

Rothenberg points out that nTop Platform is not limited to additive manufacturing technologies: it is built for advanced manufacturing, meaning it also has applications in composites and subtractive-manufacturing processes. “It’s primarily focused around AM, however I’d say maybe 20% of our customers are using it for applications outside of AM,” he adds.

A complete engineering workflow

Though nTopology’s lattice generation and topology optimization software capabilities are well known in the industry, its comprehensive nTop Platform takes its offering to the next level, adding sophisticated workflows, collaboration opportunities and faster iteration processes. 

Rothenberg elaborates: “The nTop Platform is all about enabling faster iteration and faster design. The two main competitive advantages of the Platform are that it’s more reliable and faster. Users can also benefit from the open Platform to create their own workflows in the software: workflows around lightweighting parts, connecting simulation to the design process, design for AM, toolpaths and more.

“We also have capabilities like importing CAD data directly and slicing models with no STL involved. The software also integrates its own topology optimization and simulation capabilities, including linear static stress analysis, vibration analysis and more. Anything you create in nTop, you can slice directly. We’re using our own model, which is extremely reliable and extremely fast because it’s an actual mathematical representation of a solid rather than just a pure surface-based model.”

In terms of application areas, nTopology highlights a number of industries that are seeing the benefits of its software, including aerospace, defense, automotive and medical. Some of its features, including topology optimization, structural ribbing and periodic structures, have uses in all the aforementioned industries, while others, such as stochastic structures, are geared towards aerospace and medical.

Coming this fall…

Though eager to discuss the new nTop Platform and its design and workflow tools, Rothenberg and the nTopology team are more tight-lipped about what is coming up for the company in the wake of the $20 million investment.

The company has revealed that Carl Bass, the former CEO of Autodesk, and Hrach Simonian, a general partner at Canaan and former laser researcher at Northrop Grumman, have joined nTopology’s Board of Directors, but all other expansion announcements will have to wait until the fall.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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