Abstract

The drive to produce low-cost structural designs that also have excellent engineering performance has led to a rise in the use of topology optimization (TO) methods. As a result, many commercially available computer aided design (CAD) software packages now include TO capabilities. Topology optimization can produce designs with superior performance by optimally allocating a budget of material within a given design domain, but the geometric complexity associated with many TO generated solutions makes realizing these designs via traditional (e.g. subtractive) manufacturing processes quite challenging. Additive manufacturing (AM) processes can effectively realize TO generated designs, but AM is not yet a universally acceptable manufacturing option for many applications. This paper presents the details of a more generally applicable design framework for using commercially available TO tools and an iterative procedure to create structurally optimized designs that are also manufacturable. This iterative process uses a TO solution to a structural design problem generated by a commercial CAD package as a target solution, and then successively adds optimally sized traditionally manufacturable features to the original structure until the engineering performance of the component is as close to the TO generated target design as possible in a multiobjective sense. This approach was tested on a two-dimensional structural design case study to demonstrate its implementation, effectiveness, and general applicability to wide variety of structural design problems.

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