Topology Optimization in SOLIDWORKS

The Topology Study is a powerful tool in SOLIDWORKS Simulation. Let's see it in action.

  1. Step 1:

    I want to reengineer this steering bracket to make it as lightweight as possible, while still being strong enough to take the loads. 

  2. Step 2:

    Normally, I would do this taking an iterative approach. I would try different designs, test them in the real world or in SOLIDWORKS Simulation to see if they fail and then make small, iterative changes to see what is going to work and what is not. 

  3. Step 3:

    I can change lengths, thicknesses, add cut outs and adjust those cut outs. The topology study is going to turn this approach on its head. I start out with a version of the part that represents the maximum spatial envelope that the part can take up. 

  4. Step 4:

    The topology study starts out just like a linear static study by defining material, loads and fixtures. I then create a goal. 

  5. Step 5:

    In this case I am going to ask for the best stiffness to weight ratio and manufacturing controls, like symmetry. The topology study doesn’t just solve for stresses and displacements, it iterates on the very geometry of the part, eventually calculating for me the geometry that gives me the optimal strength to weight ratio. 

  6. Step 6:

    This takes out the guess and check of the normal design process. This mesh can be smooth to give me an exportable, solid body that I can use, or I can reengineer the part with the lessons that I have learned from this process.

  7. Step 7:

    This can be great for 3D printing parts, but it is also a powerful tool if you are going to be machining or injection molding a part with certain geometrical constraints i.e. having to release the part from the mold.

    On this part, I am defining a mold direction as a geometry control. This forces the topology study to only give me surfaces that are approachable from one side or the other. Now I’ve got a part that will release from an injection mold just like I need it to, while still being the absolute strongest it can be with the lightest possible weight. 

    The topology study is available in all licenses of SOLIDWORKS Simulation Professional and Premium. Here at TriMech, we are excited to help you use it.

    Check out the full video here.