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Why we give nTop for free to students and academics

Written by Bradley Rothenberg | CEO and Founder at nTop

Published on September 12, 2021

Learn more about nTop Ed, nTop's education community, why we are committed to investing in this program, and how to join the community.

Seven years ago, when I started coding what would later become nTop, I was a CAD industry outsider: I couldn’t find any software that could let me design 3D printed metal foam structures. Existing CAD software consistently held me back — whether the software was not responsive or spent hours waiting for a model to update when making changes to a design with thousands of features.

But this struggle wasn’t just technical: even though my work wasn’t commercial, engineering software was hard to get (and still is).

That’s why, ever since early 2016, we’ve put a ton of effort into giving nTop’s software away for free. Today, our Education & Non-commercial program is a crucial part of our product development lifecycle. Here’s why we do it and how the program works.

Why nTop Ed?

We fundamentally believe that advanced manufacturing has already unlocked huge new design possibilities. Students and researchers are in the best position to explore them. We want to make that exploration process as easy as possible.

nTop’s non-commercial license program has three primary goals:

Paying it forward: We want to help new generations of students and researchers develop skills, process knowledge, and understand what modern engineering software looks and feels like.

Application discovery: We want to learn about new and out-of-the-box applications for nTop’s software, things that our corporate clients are too busy or distracted to come up with.

Cultivating evangelists: We (selfishly) want young engineers to bring a familiarity with nTop to their first jobs, helping unlock new commercial use cases in industries that we’re not even thinking about yet.

Upright design thickness field-driven design image courtesy of Lions Racing Team, "Design of an Upright using Topology Optimization and Lattice Structures".

How does it work?

The non-commercial nTop licenses work just like any other license, giving you access to the software’s full functionality — except they’re free. That’s pretty much it.

How to join nTop Ed?

To start, please visit the nTop Education Community page and fill out the inquiry form.

You will then be sent via email a questionnaire asking to tell us how you want to use nTop. If you’re not working on something with a clear commercial purpose, we’ll try our best to get you set up with a license in short order.

After you are approved to join the community, here’s what happens next:

  • We will invite you to join the nTopEd Slack community, where students, educators, and researchers discuss additive manufacturing, nTop, and the exciting use cases they’re developing.
  • We offer regular Q&A sessions during which non-commercial users can get advice on usage and applications.
  • For instructors and professors, we can work with you to develop coursework and train students.
  • For researchers, we offer discounted or free application engineering support.

Non-commercial licenses are valid for a year; if your work is ongoing, just let us know when the year is up, and we’ll get you a renewal.

Supporting the community

The nTop Education & Non-Commercial program will only succeed if you succeed. Here at nTop, we’re willing to stand by you until that happens. Nothing is more satisfying than watching new non-commercial applications blossom.

Personally, I’m incredibly proud of the range and depth that nTopEd users have taken nTop. In my many hours perusing the nTopEd Slack, I’ve come across hundreds of provocative and exciting new designs. Some examples include optimized engine pistons, lightweight wind turbine generators, and highly customizable prosthetics. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

There’s a whole new design space that’s ready to be explored. Students and researchers are in the best possible position to experiment and test new ideas. At nTop, we are learning and exploring with you, so we WANT to help if and when you get stuck.

And in the process, you might even teach us something new!

Bradley Rothenberg

CEO and Founder at nTop

Bradley Rothenberg is the CEO and founder of nTop, an engineering design software company based in New York City. Since its founding in 2015, nTop has served the aerospace, automotive, medical, and consumer products industries with advanced engineering software that enables users to design, test, and iterate faster on highly complex parts for production with additive manufacturing. Bradley has been developing computational design tools for additive manufacturing for more than 15 years. He actively works to advance the industry, often speaking at industry events around the world including Develop3DLive, Talk3D and formnext. He is often quoted in trade publications, interviewed on industry podcasts, and has been included in Forbes Magazine. He studied architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.