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SOLIDWORKS Simulation – Topology Study

We all are aware of parametric optimization in Solidworks Simulation. A topology study allows users to conduct nonparametric optimization of their parts. Previously, Simulation Professional would only allow you to parametrically optimize your model, using Design Studies. But now, in 2018, we can perform nonparametric optimization. This allows users to build a solid part, and then let the software show where material can be removed to minimize mass, based on the parameters that are defined. Starting with a maximum design space (which represents the maximum allowed size for a component) and considering all applied loads, fixtures, and manufacturing constraints, the topology optimization creates a new product within the limits of an existing product by readjusting the material. The optimized component satisfies all the required mechanical and manufacturing requirements.

Within the topology study designers and engineers can:

  • Set a target mass reduction
  • Limit material removal by limiting maximum component displacement
  • Enforce manufacturing constraints
solidworks topology study

The outcome of topology study can either be used as an aid to 3D print or as a benchmark to remove material from the traditional manufacturing process.

With a Topology study, you can set a design goal to find the best stiffness to weight ratio, minimize the mass, or reduce the maximum displacement of a component. In addition to the optimization goal, you define design constraints to ensure that the required mechanical properties, such as maximum deflection, the percentage of mass removed, and also manufacturing processes are satisfied. For a prosperous topology study to run, the design recommended by iterative optimized process should accomplish all manufactural and structural requirements entered.

Depending on the settings of the optimization goal, manufacturing controls, mesh, loads, and boundary conditions, the optimization process yields an acceptable design that is a derivative of the initial maximum design space.

To set up a Topology study, you define:

  • Goal: You can select one of the optimization intentions like Minimize Mass, Minimize Maximum Displacement or Best Stiffness to Weight Ratio.
  • Constraints: Constraints limit the design space solutions by imposing the percentage of mass that can be eradicated to be under a certain value, or by setting performance targets for the maximum displacement observed in your model.
  • Preserved Regions: These are regions of your model that are eliminated from the optimization process and are conserved in the final shape.
  • Manufacturing Controls: Geometric constraints imposed by manufacturing processes assure that the optimized part is manufacturable. You can define required controls like Symmetry Control Thickness Control or De-Mold Direction.

Depending on the settings of the mesh, boundary conditions, loads, manufacturing control and optimization goal, the optimization process produces an acceptable design that is evolved from the initial maximum design space.

Let’s understand this new study by considering a simple example that we carried out recently. The model, shown in figure 1, is a simple crank of a bicycle, and the task is to refine the design of the blue component to reduce its mass while maintaining its stiffness. Creating a Topology Study is no different than a static study; the materials, loads and restraints are the same. What are different are two new inputs: Goals and Constraints and Manufacturing Controls.

solidworks topology study


The goal of this topology study can either be to minimize the mass or displacement of your part or to maximize its stiffness (best stiffness-to-weight ratio). It’s a good practice to start with the best stiffness-to-weight ratio (Maximize stiffness) option as shown in fig. 2

Also, we have selected some preserved regions in the model, where we don’t want to remove any material. These are the regions where bolts, bearing or any connectors are assembled. So, we don’t want those regions to be weak by removing material. The regions are showcased in fig. 3

solidworks topology study


solidworks topology study


These results show which areas you need to keep and where material can be removed, based on the applied loads.

solidworks topology study

Finally, you can display SOLIDWORKS Simulation results in the SOLIDWORKS graphics area along with other components or bodies in the model that are not part of the simulation. This way, you do not have to switch between the simulation results and the modeling environment.

solidworks topology study

So, to conclude Topology Study can increase the value of a product by improving its performance within its operating environment, and by reducing the cost of producing it by reducing the amount of material used to make it. By employing topology study in business, the design engineer will increase his knowledge of his product’s behavior and improve the design.

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