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Multi-solution nature of topology optimization and its application in design for additive manufacturing

Hassan Rezayat (Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Jared Richard Bell (Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Alex J. Plotkowski (Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA and Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA)
Sudarsanam S. Babu (Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA and Energy and Transportation Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 27 November 2018

Issue publication date: 17 October 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the multi-solution nature of topology optimization (TO) as a design tool for additive manufacturing (AM). The sensitivity of topologically optimized parts and manufacturing constraints to the initial starting point of the optimization process leading to structures with equivalent performance is explored.

Design/methodology/approach

A modified bi-directional evolutionary structural optimization (BESO) code was used as the numerical approach to optimize a cantilever beam problem and reduce the mass by 50 per cent. Several optimized structures with relatively equivalent mechanical performance were generated by changing the initial starting point of the TO algorithm. These optimized structures were manufactured using fused deposition modeling (FDM). The equivalence of strain distribution in FDM parts was tested with the digital image correlation (DIC) technique and compared with that from the modified BESO code.

Findings

The results confirm that TO could lead to a wide variety of non-unique solutions based on loading and manufacturability constraints. The modified BESO code was able to reduce the support structure needed to build the simple two-dimensional cantilever beam by 15 per cent while keeping the mechanical performance at the same level.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper lies in introduction and application of the multi-solution nature of TO for AM as a design tool for optimizing structures with minimized features in the overhang condition and the need for support structures.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research was sponsored by the US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office, under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725 with UT-Battelle, LLC. This manuscript has been authored by UT-Battelle, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the US Department of Energy. The US Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the US Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for US Government purposes. The Department of Energy will provide public access to these results of federally sponsored research in accordance with the DOE Public Access Plan (http://energy.gov/downloads/doe-public-access-plan).

Citation

Rezayat, H., Bell, J.R., Plotkowski, A.J. and Babu, S.S. (2019), "Multi-solution nature of topology optimization and its application in design for additive manufacturing", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 25 No. 9, pp. 1475-1481. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-01-2018-0009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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