Altair HyperWorks: Expert Mechanical Simulation

References Cited

Altair, Mechanical Computer Aided Design (MCAD), Mechanical Computer Aided Engineering (MCAE)

Altair HyperWorks is a suite of analysis tools for simulation experts. This post reviews this solution and the value it provides.

Today’s products must operate in more and more demanding environments. To address those requirements, many organizations are trying to leverage more simulation in their development processes. One of the most advanced and mature solutions out there is Altair HyperWorksan overarching suite of simulation tools. There are many different components of the suite which will be reviewed below. Let’s get started.

Note that this post is one in a series of reviews on Altair’s solutions. The overarching post is Altair’s Vision: Solution Breadth Surprises, which links to reviews of other Altair solutions. Furthermore, note that HyperWorks is also an expert simulation and analysis tool for mechanical design. The post providing a review of those capabilities is Altair HyperWorks: Expert Electrical Analysis.

Setting Up Analyses

HyperMesh is their pre-processor. It accepts geometry from a wide range of MCAD applications, including CATIA, Creo, SOLIDWORKS, NX, Fibersim, and others. It also accepts neutral formats like IGES, STEP, JT, Parasolid, and more. It supports surface and solid (hexa and tetra) for practically all physics that are needed. It provides a mesh morphing capabilities that allows a user to drag geometry while the mesh updates in real time. There is also automated and interactive meshing here as well. Note that this tool can export out files for almost all solvers, including those not offered by Altair.

Addressing a Variety of Physics

They offer a variety of solvers for different types of physics. Optistruct is their structural analysis solver. RADIOSS is their nonlinear structural solver, meant to be used for certain engineering physics environments. AcuSolve is a Navier-Stokes based fluid dynamics solver. nanoFluidX is a smooth particle hydrodynamics (SPH) solver used for fluid flow around complex geometries. MotionSolve is meant for multi-body dynamics that allows models to be built using a diagram-like interface with underlying equations. ESAComp is a solver for composites. HyperCrash is used for crash test simulations, most frequently applied in the automotive industry. There are more solvers that Altair offers, but they are more applicable to electrical and electronics design. We’ll talk about them there.

Practically every engineering role leverages spreadsheets to some extent, including simulation analysts. The problem is that when it comes to running highly complex mathematical formulations, it is easy to run into the limits of spreadsheets. Going beyond that is the purpose of Compose. It is a math engine with direct CAE and test data readers that use a matrix-based computational language. You can write your own complicated mathematical operations and then, once registered with Hyperworks, use them as part of your analyses. There is a lot of freedom and power involved with this tool. There are lots of implications for this tool in the context of IoT and system modeling and simulation.

Reviewing Results

HyperView is their post-processor. Here, you have all the traditional capabilities like fringe plots with animations or deformations for results. A wide variety of solvers are supported here, including all of Altair’s offerings but also ANSYS, Abaqus, Dyna, MARC, Nastran, SIMPACK, and others. It’s been architected to work with very large datasets, as more analyses are taking more physics into account. This solution includes Hypergraph, a graphing toolset that can work on top of simulation results. Functionality that can automate the generation of analysis reports is also provided.

Improving Designs

Let’s touch on Topology Optimization again, because OptiStruct is the most tenured software application in the category. Altair started developing this technology almost twenty-five years ago with the University of Michigan. Over the years, they have refined it to a very mature and very advanced offering. The underlying technology is used in Inspire, but its more advanced version is available in OptiStruct.

HyperStudy includes a number of capabilities that allow engineers to improve their design. This includes the traditional parametric-based optimization. But it also includes design exploration, stochastic and sensitivity studies. Users can gain a lot of insight into their designs with this functionality.

Simulation Automation

SimLab is a templatized automation solution that is becoming increasingly popular today. With this functionality, experts can embed best practices in a template that an infrequent user, and even expert users, can leverage to accelerate their analysis.

High Performance Computing

PBS Works is a High-Performance Computing and cloud management software suite. With it, you can dole out jobs to different private, public, and hybrid computing resources to solve simulations faster.


When it comes to expert simulation, the Hyperworks suite may well be the broadest and deepest available. Career analysts can get a lot of value from this suite. Furthermore, Altair provides a set of tools for mechanical design and analysis as well. You can read more about those offerings in our review called Altair solidThinking: Mechanical Design and Analysis.

What’s the bottom line? If you’re an engineering-heavy company, you should seriously consider both of these toolsets.

Chad Jackson is an Industry Analyst at Lifecycle Insights and publisher of the engineering-matters blog. With more than 15 years of industry experience, Chad covers career, managerial and technology topics in engineering. For more details, visit his profile.