Engineers can apply manufacturing constraints at the beginning stages of design, including material, extrusion, symmetry, draw direction, cavity avoidance, and overhand angle. They can define where structure can and cannot be, and apply the expected loads that the part will see in use. Topology optimization takes it from there, generating optimal, manufacturable structures that meet performance objectives with minimum mass or maximum stiffness.
Size, Shape, and Free-Shape Optimization
Topology and topography optimization deliver great concepts, but even the most promising new designs need to be fine-tuned. This is where size, shape, and free-shape optimization come in.
Size optimization is widely used to find optimal solutions for key product characteristics, such as cross-sectional thicknesses, material choice, and other part parameters.
When designers see high-stress concentrations during their initial concept analysis, they’ll turn to shape and free-shape optimization to reduce the potential for product failure. Shape optimization enhances an existing geometry by adjusting the height, length, or radii of the design – morphing the part to distribute stress more evenly.
Free-shape optimization provides even greater flexibility by allowing designers to mark the area targeted for stress reduction. The software then creates a new, improved geometry for that area of the part. But this greater simulation freedom comes with a trade-off; free-shape optimization will not preserve small design features such as fillets. So, it’s important to understand the detailed geometry constraints of your design in order to confidently select which tool to use for fine-tuning.