Topology optimization is a mathematical approach that optimizes material layout within a given design space, for a given set of loads and boundary conditions such that the resulting layout meets a prescribed set of performance targets. Using topology optimization, engineers can find the best concept design that meets the design requirements.
Topology optimization has been implemented through the use of finite element methods for the analysis, and optimization techniques based on the method of moving asymptotes, genetic algorithms, optimality criteria method, level sets, andtopological derivatives.
Topology optimization is used at the concept level of the design process to arrive at a conceptual design proposal that is then fine tuned for performance and manufacturability. This replaces time consuming and costly design iterations and hence reduces design development time and overall cost while improving design performance.
In some cases, proposals from a topology optimization, although optimal, may be expensive or infeasible to manufacture. These challenges can be overcome through the use of manufacturing constraints in the topology optimization problem formulation. Using manufacturing constraints, the optimization yields engineering designs that would satisfy practical manufacturing requirements. In some cases Additive manufacturing technologies are used to manufacture complex optimized shapes that would otherwise need manufacturing constraints.