Topological optimisation for additive manufacturing

Topological optimisation seeks the best distribution of the material by modifying the geometry of the component so as to lighten it maximising its performance. This technique allows full design freedom, rapidity of implementation and a high degree of customisation, therefore it is the perfect complement to the production in additive manufacturing.

Topological optimisation is an operation of engineering and re-design of the component which, starting from the characteristics of the project, modifies, through a software, the geometry of the component so as to obtain an optimal distribution of the material, which will therefore be present only where strictly necessary.

This technique takes into consideration various elements such as the properties of the material used, the loads to which the component will be subjected, the work frequencies and objectives to be achieved and, based on these, seeks the best distribution of the material.
For example, thanks to topological optimisation it is possible to considerably reduce the mass of an object while maintaining mechanical performance unaltered: the result is a light and performing component.

A tool to maximise the benefits of additive technologies

Topological optimisation is not a recent design technique; however, in the past it was rarely used because the optimal distribution of the material often resulted in extremely complex shapes and therefore very difficult to produce.
With 3D printing this difficulty is completely overcome.
Additive manufacturing makes it possible to create complex shapes and geometries using a wide range of materials and with a rapid time-to-market: the optimal conditions to use topological optimisation to the full of its possibilities.

Topological optimisation for additive manufacturing

Using topological optimisation as a tool for design and production in additive manufacturing has several advantages, including:

  • a significant reduction in the weight of the product/component
  • functional geometries
  • a reduction in the amount of material to be used in printing
  • a reduction in the post-process phases
  • the possibility of designing starting from the functional requirements of the product and not from the shape of the object.
This leads to a reduction in costs and a positive impact on the production process.

Added to this is the fact that, in many cases, topologically optimised geometry is achievable only with the use of additive technologies.

Topological optimisation for additive manufacturing

Topological optimisation: tailored solutions for the project

The software used for topological optimisation works taking into consideration the specific characteristics of the project.
The loads, the conditions of use and the properties of the material are analysed, which is why it is possible to optimise both metal components and plastic components.

The software, considering all these elements, goes to subtract the material from the areas where this is not necessary. In this way only the optimal amount of material will be present depending on the result to be obtained.

Topological optimisation for 3D printing

An experienced team to maximise the advantages of topological optimisation with additive manufacturing

To best use a topological optimiser, it is necessary to understand how the component works, the characteristics of the material with which it will be made and how the loads will be distributed; moreover, it is essential to know the production process.
In fact, a correct topological analysis setup requires an in-depth knowledge of the critical issues and specific aspects of the production process; for example, for 3D printing, in the topological analysis phase, it is necessary to evaluate the right number of supports and avoid geometries that could over-deform.
However, the know-how of additive processes, and above all the production experience with 3D printing, is not always present within the technical offices of the companies.

For this reason, ZARE has decided to combine its decades of experience in additive manufacturing with a consultancy service on design and topological optimisation.

Topological optimisation for 3D printing

With ZARE, customers can count on a team with high skills in both topological optimisation and 3D printing; the team will take into consideration not only the generic constraints, but also those specific to the single materials, the single machines and the single technologies and, for each component, will study the variations of the process parameters necessary for optimisation.

This is a transversal service able to propose solutions to the production problems of a large number of sectors: Zare becomes the ideal partner not only for additive production, but also to support the customer in the design phase in order to create competitive, performing and additive friendly components, reducing costs.