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Topology optimization - what is it ?

Topology optimization began in 1904 with Michell structures. Here, Michell considered beam structures and also developed a design theory whereby all beam structures intersect each other at a 90° angle. Consequently, an optimal arrangement of tensile and compressive stress was created. 

Furthermore, this is nowadays also a method of computer-aided product development, with which optimization potentials can be identified at an early stage in the development process. Accordingly, various software providers offer solutions for this nowadays. 

Which improvement potentials does the optimization of the topology offer ?

Depending on the application, there are almost a multitude of targets. Consequently, however, the most fundamental goal here is to make optimum use of the given installation space.

Also other examples are these: 

  • Weight reduction with unchanged load capacity 
  • Load increase with constant weight 
  • Optimisation of the force distribution over several bearing positions 
  • Natural frequency optimization through the right ratio of mass and stiffness 
topology optimization what is it ?
Stiffness optimization of a machine frame

In summary, by the way, these goals serve primarily the thematic focus of lightweight construction.

Where is this methodology most widely used today ?

This topology optimization is used, for example, primarily in automotive and vehicle construction, both in aerospace and in mechanical engineering. The most important factor here is an optimal cost/benefit ratio. A classic application of this methodology is, for example, the saving of weight (lightweight construction) and/or material in series production.

What other types of topology optimization are there ?

In summary, topological optimization deals with finding the most favorable basic shape (topology) for mechanically loaded components. In addition to the application areas and optimization goals described above, a distinction is made between continuous and discrete optimization in this context.

Discrete optimization:

The best known representative is Anthony George Maldon Michell and his staff works. These optimizations by bar works are still used today, because the advantages are mainly in the low computation time. 

Continuous optimization:

For this, the process is generally usually done in 3 steps and that is:

  1. The maximum available installation space must be defined. Thereby dThis can be done using CAD or a finite element system.
  1. Other optimization goals need to be established, such as: low mass or high stiffness.
  1. The software uses the available data to determine one or more Design proposals that serve the designer as a template for his design concept. is available for use.

We would be happy to advise you on how you can use topological optimization to improve and, above all, accelerate your product development process.

Are you curious ?

Learn more about how you can optimize the topology of your components or your components in general with regard to the loads that occur..

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