Altair solidThinking: Mechanical Design and Analysis

References Cited

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

Altair solidThinking is a set of applications for mechanical design and analysis. This post reviews this solution and the value it provides.

There are many tools out there that mechanical engineers can use to design and analyze products. However, there aren’t many that combine the capabilities that you see in solidThinking. Let’s dive in.

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.

The Goal

The idea behind these tools is to enable the design and engineering community to make better decisions based on simulation early and throughout the design phase. Note that the Altair solidThinking brand is distributed through a channel of more than 200 partners around the world. HyperWorks relies on Altair’s patented units-based licensing model.

Evolve: Aesthetic Sketching and 3D Modeling

When it comes to 2D sketching and 3D modeling, Altair has some interesting offerings. Evolve provides freeform sketching, modeling, and rendering functionality. This is primarily related to aesthetic design where you need to worry about how light plays across the surface of a product. Note that you won’t find much prismatic Parametric Modeling capabilities here. However, given how 3D printing has the potential to change how engineers design, this might play well into the future needs of engineers.

Inspire: Simulation Optimization

With Generative Design becoming an increasingly popular topic, it is important to be aware of Altair’s Inspire. This software application is a combined MCAD and simulation tool that allows engineers to quickly model and assess the structural characteristics of a design. Furthermore, there are powerful Topology Optimization capabilities here that can automate and suggest new designs. Again, considering how 3D printing is allaying the traditional constraints on design, this is a highly applicable going forward for engineers. Keep in mind that this is not a full production MCAD offering. You won’t find drawing or MBD capabilities here. You won’t find any extended capabilities like generating toolpaths. This tool is focused, as Altair intended.

Manufacturability Simulation

In addition to the design and structural analysis capabilities, Altair offers a few more options. Click2Cast, Click2Extrude, and Click2Form are simulation tools that allow designers and engineers to assess the manufacturability of casted, extruded, and stamped parts. This lets them avoid issues like voids, porosity, and material tears in manufacturing processes.


Altair offers some good mechanical design and analysis tools. Inspire particularly stands out. Engineers can use this tool to make better design decisions and then document them in a more traditional MCAD application. Furthermore, Altair offers Hyperworks, an expert-level simulation and analysis set of tools as well. You can read more about that solution in our postAltair Hyperworks: Expert Mechanical Simulation.

If you’re an engineering-heavy company, you should seriously consider their toolsets.


When it comes to the value of Model-Based Definition initiatives, there’s lots of heresay and little evidence. That’s why Lifecycle Insights conducted a study and published the results in a research report.

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.

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