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The Topology Optimization Imperative

You may lose design proposals if you don’t know about it.

What happens when powerful mathematics, genetic algorithms, computer technology, and an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) come together? Let’s start by saying that topology optimization is a mathematical approach for optimizing material distribution. The objective to be achieved is represented by the structural form obtained by the optimal material distribution. Finding an optimal solution means narrowing the field of solutions to a set of feasible results that includes the solutions that minimize the mathematical objective function.

By using topology optimization, designers can find the concept that best meets the design requirements. Using optimization technologies, designers initially define a design space, the area where the component must fit in the structure, including any holes. Loads are applied to the design space along with manufacturing constraints and other variables, allowing algorithms to suggest the best possible material layout which meets the predetermined performance targets.

Topology optimization, among the various optimization techniques, leads to structural forms that can incorporate major aesthetic attributes. The way in which the material is arranged in space often results in very organic forms:


Unlike other optimization techniques, the structure obtained with topology optimization might be counterintuitive. As such, this technique may offer a source of inspiration while controlling for structural performance factors. Today, designers can take a different approach: something we call “simulation-driven design”. Here, computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) are deployed in parallel. Topology optimization may be used to generate architectural forms easily, enabling faster design iterations and the creation of more competitive designs.

Over the last three decades, Altair has pioneered simulation-driven design to generate innovative design solutions in support of its clients. This has resulted in industry-leading products that exhibit minimum weight and outstanding performance characteristics while speeding up time to market. Altair’s software solutions enable users to design high performance, weight efficient structures early in the concept design phase. Designers and architects can use topology optimization to generate and explore structurally efficient concepts in an intuitive user interface. solidThinking Inspire® has won multiple awards in 2013 and 2014, incorporating some of the best optimization technology available in a design tool.

For product engineers and analysts, Altair HyperWorks® offers optimization solutions for both concept studies and design iterations. OptiStruct®, Altair’s award-winning integrated analysis and optimization tool, along with HyperStudy®, Altair’s design exploration software, enable a multi-disciplinary product design cycle for even the most complex structures. All of these solutions are contained within the HyperWorks CAE suite.

To learn more about topology optimization and other simulation techniques, please click here.