We are reviewing lots of articles and other materials, however someone new to the area may not see in which industries can benefit from topology optimization. So we decided to write a short article on this. So if you are a professional skip this article.
What springs to mind when one hears topology optimization is the minimum compliance type. In this type, we specify a volume and certain constraints and forces in the topology optimization software, and it shows us a (nearly) optimum structure which will have the least compliance with the given weight. Minimum compliance implies maximum stiffness. And maximum stiffness is important in many many applications. Maximum stiffness with minimum weight is even more important. It is usually easy to achieve high stiffness even without any simulations, however doing it while constraining weight is hard. And topology optimization excels here. And the resulting structure is generally good in a strength point of view too, as all the structure is loaded efficiently.
So who can use it? The answer is basically anyone that deals with load bearing structures. Its usage in automotive is well known. We have covered its usages in Industrial machinary, buildings, aircraft, ships, wind turbines, medical implants, armor, composites… Anything that has to endure loads can be made better.
If you are not sure how you can use topology optimization, feel free to contact us.
There are other variants of topology optimization. They are not used as frequently. One is compliant mechanism design. In this type we specify some input and output movement and ask the software to find which kind of structure will satisfy it. For example we want a chair that raises the head rest when someone sits on it, without any hinges etc. So it will deform elastically to give the results that we seek. There are various academic examples, however practical usage is close to none.
Another type is in which CFD is coupled with topology optimization to give some desired results. It is rather flexible (flexibility probably depending on the skills of coder). So one can use it to produce low friction, directional flow (high resistance in one direction low in the other), to give uniform flow, uniform pressure distribution etc. probably limited by the imagination of the user. This type is gaining popularity in related industries. However it is computationally very intensive.
Another type is heat flow optimization. Users can optimize structures that will create highest heat flow. We are not knowledgable in this are so its up to the reader to research if interested.
As you can see there are various types of topology optimization (some not covered). Probably any industrial company can benefit in one form or another.