Optimize Early and Optimize Often!

Recently Jeff Brennan wrote about the “three Rs” of eliminating waste and protecting the environment, singling out “reduce” as the most significant. “There is nothing ‘greener’ than OptiStruct®!” stated Jeff.  I’m certainly not going to disagree with that and at solidThinking, we’ve been working to make OptiStruct technology available to a broader range of people involved with product development.

Jeff met with a respected former Vice-President: in contrast, I thought I’d write about why optimization should be applied in a manner associated with some more infamous political activists. Maybe the answer to “how to cast the greatest number of votes with the smallest number of voters” can also inform how to get the most from optimization…


Getting to the polling booth early provides momentum to your political party. Early topology optimization generates a structural design concept that can be used to start communication across departments, giving your program momentum. An optimization tool can be used to its best advantage when fewer constraints are put on the solution. Creating your first topology result before you’ve even created CAD geometry is now possible and produces results that would rarely be achieved through parametric optimization.


While a modern democratic electoral processes means one person = one vote, you can still indulge in some optimization “ballot stuffing”. After an initial concept has been generated, exploration of the effects of changes in the package space, loading, material or manufacturing process can be performed.

Easy tool interaction is key to fast-paced exploration. Optimization can then be used in real time by a group to inform a design direction and enhance the product development process, changing the way decisions are made. This approach supports the evaluation of more options, faster design convergence and improved robustness to requirement changes.

The solidThinking team has created Inspire to encourage optimizing early and often, giving product designers and structural engineers an advantage (with no corrupt or fraudulent activity!) by using OptiStruct technology in a new way. Inspire proposes forms that can be evolved into a finished product with easy export to any CAD tool to help design engineers quickly create dramatically lighter structures, promoting a better understanding of the effects of material placement on whatever they’re developing.

Tony Norton
Tony Norton

About Tony Norton

Tony leads the Americas based Altair ProductDesign teams in the delivery of early concept (industrial design, design exploration, testing & prototyping) and advanced simulation driven design (cutting-edge modeling, optimization, methods development & automation) to our customers. Before joining Altair UK in 1996, he worked at both Ford Motor Company and GEC-Marconi Avionics. He moved to Michigan in 1999 to join Altair US, and holds a Bachelors degree from The University of Hertfordshire in England.