In recent years, various computer-aided approaches have been created to determine the optimal design for a problem. Engineers have been able to construct plans with these sophisticated procedures. The topology optimization approach is one of these strategies.
What is topology optimization? The term “topology optimization” or “TO” refers to a design process performed on a computer and utilized to create compelling compositions. This technology is used in many different branches of engineering, including aerospace, civil engineering, biochemical engineering, and mechanical engineering, to produce creative design solutions that surpass manual designs proactively.
The idea phase of design development is when topology optimization first makes its appearance as a mathematical procedure. The purpose of this approach is to more evenly distribute the quantity of material that is now available throughout the model. Building a design considers the constraints imposed by the designer, including the applied load and the open space.
In its most basic form, topology optimization begins with a 3D model and ends with creating a design space. The design is then improved by removing or repositioning the material inside it. The objective function does not consider the aesthetics or the convenience of production when carrying out the material distribution process.
Component With Topology Optimization
After optimizing the topology of the part, a load applies, and the holes’ positions map out. The approach requires, at the very least, for us to provide it with the size of the loading and the limitations within which it should work. The optimization method uses this knowledge to devise a potential load route that utilizes the least amount of material feasible.
After the design has been finalized, we build the item using techniques of additive printing (and sometimes subtractive manufacturing). The process of additive manufacturing, which will be abbreviated as AM from here on out, involves gradually adding new layers of material to an existing model using a technique such as three-dimensional printing.
AM can generate intricate forms and structures, the likes of which would be incredibly challenging to produce using other approaches. Because of this, we find it to be superior for the process of developing complicated goods that result from optimization.
On the other hand, there are situations when the design that is recommended by topology optimization is even too complicated for AM. In cases like this, we will make some minor adjustments to the plan to increase its ability to be manufactured.
How does it come into effect?
An existing model is improved by adjusting its topology to achieve optimal performance. Either the whole of a component or certain parts of it are optimizable at our discretion. The design space refers to this particular region of concentration in the project.
The creation of a straightforward mesh of the design space is accomplished by topology optimization using finite element analysis (FEA). The distribution of stresses and the amount of strain energy are analyzed on the mesh. It provides the system with information on how much loading the various parts manage.
Certain portions will have the ideal distribution of the material, while other sections may benefit from additional cutting. The finite element approach indicates the structure branches with a low strain energy and stress level. When all of the inefficient parts of the design area have been located, the goal function will begin to eliminate the material progressively.
During this phase of the trimming process, the system will also evaluate the degree to which the general structure has been altered as a result of the removal procedure. If the removal procedure causes it to lose its integrity, the operation will halt, and the material in that area.
To prepare for the execution of the TO algorithm, we first determine the proportion of the total material that will be devoted to the removal of the specified quantity of material. For instance, we can decide that a material reduction goal percentage of fifty percent is appropriate.
The method will, in phases, eliminate the surplus of material. At each step, it repeats the element distribution until it achieves the required proportion, at which point it performs a stress test on the structure to determine its overall degree of tension.
Optimizing the topology of a network can solve several problems at the same time. Let’s investigate the many benefits that TO has to offer.
Develop strategies that are both financially and physically feasible.
The potential of topology optimization to cut out any surplus weight is the advantage that stands out as the most appealing. When sizes are optimized, this reduces the demand for raw materials.
A detrimental influence on energy efficiency is also caused by excess weight. Shipping costs for the components will also be higher. All of these benefits immediately translate into genuine cost reductions, which is significant in a market with much competition.
One particularly compelling example demonstrates how General Electric used ‘TO’ to cut the weight of an engine bracket by 84 percent. Because of the incremental improvement in energy efficiency brought about by this alteration, the airlines were able to save around 31 million dollars thanks to it.
A speedier design process
It does not take as much time to develop the final design when TO is used since design restrictions, and performance requirements are taken in at an earlier stage of conception than if TO were not utilized.
A quicker procedure also implies a shorter time-to-market length, which is particularly significant for new items entering a market saturated with similar options.
The use of TO helps reduce the unnecessary waste of material. The algorithm can create environmentally friendly architectural systems while maintaining a firm grounding in structurally sound reasoning. Additionally, as was said previously, topologically optimized goods have a lower overall weight, which decreases fuel consumption.
Because of its low impact on the natural world, TO is being adopted by an increasing number of businesses operating in the industrial sector in response to the growing need for more eco-friendly substitutes.
For us to make efficient use of topology optimization, there are a few challenges that we first need to get familiar with. Let’s have a look at what they are.
The designs that TO creates can make it challenging to construct the product. Even though AM is pretty versatile in terms of the kind of things it can create, it is still required to examine whether or not the design can be manufactured before it is finalized.
If we attempt to tackle the issue of topology optimization by thinking simply about the function, there is a chance that we will fall short when it comes to the quality of our builds and the efficiency with which we use them.
At this point, it is essential to note that a select number of software suppliers provide a function known as manufacturing limitations for TO. As a result, it is feasible to build components that are only producible via the use of traditional manufacturing processes.
Pricey to bear
The cost of AM has been going down recently, although it is still much more than the cost of conventional manufacturing techniques. The cost-benefit analysis has to be done on an individual basis for each potential option.
It is possible to create injection molds for use in the mass manufacture of the product. As a result, we might consider alternatives to 3D printing to manufacture plastic components.
AM may be costly, which is a disincentive in most circumstances as the investment is too significant to justify its use for producing just a few components on and off. In cases like these, it is likely to be more beneficial to outsource the manufacturing to a firm that offers services related to 3D printing.
The development of additive manufacturing has made it easy for us to manufacture incredibly complicated forms. We need technological advancements such as topology optimization to make the most of these leaps in our manufacturing capacities.
Structures with the optimum stiffness-to-weight ratio and little material by optimizing topology shapes. Both additive and subtractive manufacturing procedures help create them.
AM does allow a considerable level of flexibility to the designer, but when flat items are involved, modern subtractive manufacturing processes may make components with complicated geometry just as well.
Each approach has various manufacturing limitations on the topologies and geometry of components, as well as how the supply chain is carried out. Some good techniques that can produce these creative solutions are:
Optimizing already developed solutions is one of TO’s strong suits. When you are still getting the hang of things, it may seem like you have little to no control over the situation. On the other hand, many variables can change to make the model provide better results.
Examples of these controls include
- limiting the size of the members in the design space,
- requiring symmetry around the planes, and
- ensuring that the final model extrudes.
You may also adjust the proportion of material removed from the component to regulate the degree to which the algorithm will optimize it.