Integrating Next-Generation Technology: Topology Optimization

Note: This is part three of a five-part series on integrating next generation technologies into your design workflow. Click the links to read part one and part two

Product design evolution is shaped and accelerated by CAD-embedded simulations. With Additive Manufacturing (AM), core elements of the manufacturing processes are being transformed today, beginning with the basics of how parts are designed. Traditionally design and simulation are seen as an iterative process (see image below).

Parametric Optimization tools automate the design iterations when a set performance goal(s) is used to find the most optimal candidate design. Topology optimization adds one additional layer of sophistication. It helps guide the design process from the very beginning. And simulation becomes a final step in this workflow for a Confirmation on product performance.

So what is Topology Optimization?

Topology optimization is the most common type of structural optimization. It is used in the initial phase of the design to predict the optimal material distribution within a given initial design space of a structure (see an example below) and considers all applied loads, fixtures, and manufacturing constraints.

The topology optimization seeks a new material layout, within the boundaries of the maximum allowed geometry, by redistributing the material. The redistribution is based on a mathematical technique called as  SIMP. Topology optimization is non-parametric, meaning the optimization is based on final part functional performance requirements and not really manufacturability. Thus most likely the final shape is a good candidate for Additive Manufacturing and not traditional methods.  Below is an example of the shape produced by topology optimization.

Watch the video below to learn how you can take an initial concept idea to a finished part using SOLIDWORKS and Topology Optimization in SOLIDWORKS Simulation. To make the topology geometry more usable, a couple of options, especially mesh-smoothening techniques as well as generating parametric geometry from the topology shape are discussed. The video wraps up showing how you can leverage the power of SOLIDWORKS Simulation stress analysis to confirm product strength and performance.


Topology optimization studies enhance the design workflow process going from idea to production parts. You can create lightweight and create strong designs that meet functional specifications. In Part 4 of this series, we will address common failure modes especially due to vibrational loads, that can degrade both product performance as well as product life. To watch all videos in this series, click here or the below banner.

Ramesh Lakshmipathy

Ramesh Lakshmipathy

Senior Territory Technical Manager at Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS