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A few years ago, we wrote a blog post that talked about the differences between Altair Inspire, Altair SimLab and Altair SimSolid. The goal was to illustrate when someone would use these tools based on their strengths and best applications. Since then, the tools have been enhanced quite a bit, so we decided to refresh this post to talk about each tool with its latest 2024 release.


Altair Inspire

What is it?

Altair Inspire is a user-friendly design and simulation tool that allows users to create efficient and innovative models. It makes complex tasks easy to handle, even for those without much experience in simulation. Inspire also includes manufacturability analysis that allows users to be sure their design is feasible before sending to manufacturing.

1-Jul-09-2024-03-26-10-2575-PMFig 1: Examples of Inspire capabilities

Strengths of Altair Inspire

  • Geometry Creation: Inspire lets users work the way the way they choose.
    • Geometry creation can be a traditional parametric workflow with sketches, 3D models and engineering drawings. This is commonly known as BRep Modeling (Boundary Representation Modeling)
    • Ability to create PolyNurbs free-form solid geometry that is smooth and continuous through easy to edit polymesh cages.
    • Lattice shapes can be easily created with simulation in mind using implicit modeling.
    • Direct editing option is available for more organic shapes using Altair Inspire Studio.
  • Topology Optimization: Inspire includes the industry-leading topology optimization solver technology from Altair OptiStruct. This is important for users looking to reduce the mass or volume of their designs without sacrificing structural integrity.
  • Simulation Capabilities: Altair continues to add simulation capabilities to the tool with each release. Users can run structural, linear FEA analysis in addition to thermal and CFD analysis.
  • Manufacturability: Inspire includes manufacturing simulation tools for metal casting, metal forming, polymer and metal extrusion, plastic injection molding, additive manufacturing and polyfoam expansion.
  • Motion Simulation: Inspire supports the evaluation of forces, velocities, and accelerations, providing detailed insights into the performance and potential issues of moving components through utilizing Altair MotionSolve as its multibody motion solver.

Best Applications

  • With its ability to create organic shapes with Inspire Studio or topology optimization, in addition to lattice creation tools, Inspire is a great fit for those who include additive manufacturing in their process.
  • Those with legacy data or currently work within another CAD tool can import native files into Inspire to perform functions.
  • Designers also need to understand the manufacturability of their design before sending out for final manufacturing.


Altair SimSolid

What is it?

Altair SimSolid is a fast and easy-to-use structural analysis software that allows engineers to quickly analyze the strength and performance of their designs without the need for complicated meshing or geometry simplification. Unlike traditional FEA tools, SimSolid works directly with CAD models, handling large and complex assemblies with ease.

2-Jul-09-2024-03-26-28-8159-PMFig 2: Structural Analysis result using Altair SimSolid

Strengths of Altair SimSolid

  • Speed: Because SimSolid eliminates the most time-consuming setup tasks of simplifying geometry and mesh creation, it allows users to jump straight into setting up their study. Once they hit run, they will see very quick results, making it ideal for quick design iterations.
  • Large Assemblies: What typically makes large assemblies difficult to deal with from a simulation perspective is the mesh creation and model simplification. Again, because SimSolid doesn’t require users to perform this step, it can get answers from large assembly simulations quickly.
  • Simulation Capabilities: Users can run a variety of simulation types including nonlinear, modal, thermal and dynamics.

Best Applications

  • Users who have a need for quick design iterations based on simulation results.
  • Those who spend time preparing large assembly models for simulation.

Altair SimLab

What is it?

Altair SimLab is a process-oriented, multidisciplinary simulation environment that combines ease-of-use with advanced simulation capabilities and supports a wide range of physics, including structural, thermal, electronics and fluid dynamics simulation.

3-Jul-09-2024-03-26-49-9259-PMFig 3: Meshed model in Altair SimLab

Strengths of Altair SimLab

  • Solver Capabilities: SimLab integrates advanced solver capabilities from well-known solvers like Altair OptiStruct for structural analysis, Altair Radioss for explicit analysis, Altair Acusolve for CFD analysis and Altair Flux for electromagnetics. These solvers being included means SimLab is a true Multiphysics simulation solver.
  • Ease of Use: Typically, users see advanced simulation capabilities and equate that to a steep learning curve. SimLab combines the ease-of-use that is found with many CAD tools, with advanced analysis functions of analyst-level tools. Altair also offers no cost training for each of its products to help speed up time to implementation.
  • Automation: SimLab excels in automating tedious tasks such as meshing and model setup, significantly reducing the time required to prepare models for simulation. SimLab also includes automation tools and templates to setup of results and convergence, design of experiments (DoE) and optimization.

Best Applications

  • Evaluating structural integrity, thermal performance, and fluid dynamics of components and assemblies.
  • Thermal management and structural analysis of electronic devices and PCBs
  • Durability and performance analysis of machinery components under various load conditions.


4-Jul-09-2024-03-27-19-2821-PMFig 4: Chart of Altair SimLab capabilities

As we look at these three tools in comparison to each other, you can see they share some of the same strengths, including their short learning curves. With Altair Inspire, it’s very powerful with regards to its geometry creation with added simulation capabilities; Altair SimLab is the most robust simulation solution of the three, including Multiphysics capabilities; and Altair SimSolid is ideal for those who need quick results with large assemblies. See the table below for a more detailed feature comparison.

TableTable 1: Feature comparison for Altair Inspire, SimLab and SimSolid

Hopefully this helps to understand the difference between the three solutions. To discuss further, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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