Since decision-making at the conceptual design stage critically affects final design solutions at the detailed design stage, conceptual design support techniques are practically mandatory if the most efficient realization of optimal designs is desired. Topology optimization methods using discrete elements such as frame elements enable a useful understanding of the underlying mechanics principles of products, however the possibility of changing prior assumptions concerning utilization environments exists since the detailed design process starts after the completion of conceptual design decision-making. In order to avoid product performance reductions due to such later-stage environmental changes, this paper discusses a reliability-based topology optimization method that can secure specified design goals even in the face of environmental factor uncertainty. This method can optimize mechanical structures with respect to two principal characteristics, namely structural stiffness and eigen-frequency. Several examples are provided to illustrate the utility of the method presented here for mechanical design engineers.

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