Design Light, But Strong with Lattice Designer

The design mantra for today’s design teams is efficiency. To get the most out of as little as you can, without sacrificing quality or performance. This has led many to mimic nature, who over a millennium of evolution has created many high efficiency solutions. One of nature’s solutions to strength to weight ration problems is to use lattice structures, where a repeating pattern creates an open cell structure that is both strong and light.

From tiny lattice patterns on snowflakes, on fish scales, beehives, or inside bones, many designers have taken inspiration from nature to develop products that take advantage of lattice structures, to improve product efficiency. Designs such as steel bridges and towers, gates, fences, furniture and even food, such as cherry pie crust are feature lattice structures.

Using structures inspired by nature is not new, the aerospace industry has been using honeycomb cores between structural skins for many years. Inspired by bees, who build their nest in a honeycomb lattice pattern, these honeycomb structures allow minimization of materials, weight reduction and cost while remaining very strong.

But what has changed in the last few years is the widespread adoption and use of additive manufacturing. The application of additive manufacturing methods means that we can make very complex structures like lattices that were not possible to make before with traditional manufacturing processes.

To meet the needs of lattice designers, we recently introduced CATIA Lattice Designer, a cloud-connected solution that enables you to generate lattice structures directly in your CAD model without the need for export and import operations. It is easy to learn and to use with the Lattice Design Assistant, a wizard that guides you through the steps. The main advantage is that the lattice structure is associative with the CAD parametric model, so when you make a design change in your CAD model, the lattice structure automatically updates.

You can easily find, revise and share your lattice design while taking advantage of the platform’s collaboration and data management capabilities.

We’ve recently expanded compatibility with our browser-based design solutions, such as 3D Creator. Today I want to mainly focus on that workflow.

With Lattice Designer there are many different types of lattice cells available, including regular rectangular or circular, TPMS (triply periodic minimal surface) or customized cell types. One of the advantages of Lattice Designer is that in addition to the ability to create a lattice design, it has a direct link to simulation apps allowing you to evaluate strength and stiffness or temperature of various types of lattice cell types to decide which alternative would be the best for your product.

Examples of some of lattice unit cells available in Lattice Designer


The gyroid lattice is a TPMS type of lattice cell that is quite popular in the industry. The geometry is quite complex, and the generated structure offers lots of advantages in terms of strength and stiffness, weight and manufacturability using 3D printing. In addition, it provides separated closed cavities inside the structure, ideal for heat exchanger types of applications. TPMS and in particular gyroids can be generated with Lattice Designer, which also has a direct link to finite element analysis (FEA) simulation capabilities for structural validation.

Stress results comparison of different Lattice design alternatives


How it works with 3D Creator for example, is you can take your 3D Creator model and open it in Lattice Designer to leverage the lattice design capabilities and what’s great is if you make a change in 3D Creator the lattice design will update automatically.

Fast design iterations using 3D Creator and Lattice Designer


What’s also nice about Lattice Designer and the 3DEXPERIENCE Works solutions is that you don’t have to wait for an annual release to get your hands on the latest features as enhancements are released in multiple updates throughout the year. As of the latest update, you can now open a 3D Creator CAD model in Lattice Designer, set up and generate the lattice structure there, and then simply update the 3D Creator model to visualize it and use the lattice in downstream operations such as measuring mass properties, cutting sections, creating drawings.

You can find lattice structures in many industries. For example, products like drones or other flying objects can leverage lattice structures to reduce weight. Many car manufacturers also use 3D printing and lattice structures to reduce weight and increase efficiency while polluting less.

21-year-old Kyle Richardson, a former intern at Dassault Systèmes, used Lattice Designer and 3D Creator to design and build a drone he 3D printed. “I had an excellent opportunity to design it with intricate lattice geometries using the CATIA Lattice Designer role. The integration between 3D Creator and Lattice Designer made for a great design experience, allowing me to optimize the frame for strength and weight.” You can read more about his journey here.

Former intern Kyle Richardson designed and built a drone using 3D Creator and Lattice Designer.


Another hot market for lattice structures is in the industrial machine industry. For example, heat exchangers are used in many engineering applications, such as refrigeration, heating and air conditioning systems, power plants, chemical processing systems, food processing systems, automobile radiators, and waste heat recovery units.

Heat exchanger latticed using gyroid cells with two fluid cavities automatically generated in Lattice Designer


When it comes to heat exchangers or injection mold design, cooling down temperatures is very important. Both injection molding and heat exchangers design can leverage lattice structures as it provides a larger surface area to increase heat exchange and accelerate temperature cooling. In plastic injection mold design, for example, lattice structures can be used to cool down the mold faster after each injection.

Lattice Designer also enables you to separate closed cavities inside the structure when designing heat exchangers.

Improving mold design cooling efficiency with thermal simulation comparison of two different lattice design alternatives


In the medical device industry, lattice structures also have huge benefits when it comes to medical implants as they can accelerate bone growth and accelerate a patient recovery. The scientific name for that is osseointegration.

Spinal medical implant designed with different lattice cell types


Lattice design is also popular in consumer goods, such as the bicycle and shoe markets. For instance, in the shoe market lattice design enables you to improve not only aesthetics, but also improve shock absorption. Overall, using lattice designs can produce a new and innovative look, making the product higher end, unique and more desirable for the buyer, which in turn gives your company a competitive edge.

Frame of a bike latticed with Lattice Designer


With 3D Creator and Lattice Designer you will get a continuous workflow from CAD to simulation, and preparation of prints so you don’t lose associativity, and the whole process is traceable as it can be stored on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

We always continue to enhance our solutions so you can take advantage of the full power of the 3DEXPERIENCE Works portfolio. As of late, and for better communication of a lattice design with manufacturing, latticed parts can also be represented in a drawing using the xDrawing app in Manufacturing Definition Creator.

Latticed component of a drone generated by Lattice Designer annotated and represented in a drawing made with the xDrawing app


We also offer 3D printing services at:

Lattice Designer and 3D Creator are available now as roles in the 3DEXPERIENCE Works portfolio. Also check out the SOLIDWORKS Cloud Offer for a great deal on purpose-built tools such as 3D Creator, 3D Sculptor and many more!

Contact your local reseller for a demo and to learn more.

Nicolas Tillet

Nicolas Tillet

Product Portfolio Manager at DS SOLIDWORKS Corp.
Product Portfolio Manager for SOLIDWORKS Simulation
Nicolas Tillet
Nicolas Tillet