Topology optimization is used to search for a design proposal based on the maximum available design space. The resulting basic geometry depends on the external loads and the boundary conditions. In contrast to shape optimization, not only the geometry on the surface is changed, but the entire installation space. This process can therefore also create holes or cavities in the structure, which changes the entire topology. Hence the naming for this type of optimization. The method is one of the mesh based and parameter-free optimization algorithms.
The idea behind topology optimization is very simple; it is primarily based on the behavior of a bone. The areas that are less stressed are softened and finally completely removed. During implementation, the entire installation space is meshed and subjected to the external loads. The density and modulus of elasticity are reduced for elements with a low load-carrying portion. The optimization process runs iteratively until at the end only those elements are left which have a very high load ratio.
Topology optimization can be adapted to geometric restrictions by defining fixed, unchangeable areas. The integration of a preferred demoulding direction is somewhat more complicated, but also possible, in order to take technical production requirements into account in this virtual concept finding process.
The challenge of the method lies in the correct interpretation of the design proposals found. On the one hand, the result depends predominantly on the external loads and is therefore vulnerable to faults. It must therefore be ensured that the loads for the design must represent the subsequent load spectrum very well. On the other hand, the result is always a more or less rugged geometry, which must then be returned to a smoothed and representative CAD model.