March 25, 2019
Traditionally, topology optimization is a passive process. You define loads and constraints, hit “solve” and walk away. After a few hours, physics simulations create an optimal shape that solves the problem you set up.
However, optimization techniques only excel at solving problems that are fully constrained. As a result, a designer must add constraints — such as the materials, geometric design space and connection points — in order to produce a single optimized shape.
For designers, these constraints become the inputs we vary in order to uncover new optimal solutions. By varing the weight reduction goals, mounting holes and materials, for example, we can better understand how these decisions affect the product’s performance.
Armed with this knowledge the designer can select the best solution and quickly adapt to any changes to the specifications or constraints.
With Ansys 2019 R1, designers can use Ansys Discovery Live’s real-time topology optimization tool to generate a design in seconds. This added speed and interactivity enables designers to use generative design in the concept phase instead of only for lightweighting toward the end of product development.
Topology optimization of a bracket where the target mass is varied and all other constraints are fixed.
Discovery Live is fast. It can build an optimal shape in about 60 seconds.
Unlike most optimization techniques, topology optimization utilizes a level-set‒based method, meaning that a precise smooth shape is defined at each step of the process.
The shape is also fully simulated at each step, enabling designers to review the evolution of the part’s behavior and performance.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the design can be modified while the optimization is occuring. This, coupled with the high speed and iterative optimization, allows designers to see where a solution is headed, take inspiration from it and make a change to drive the solution in a different direction.
Discovery Live’s topology optimization and simulation technologies work in collaboration with the designer, offering a unique, fast and innovative experience.
Discovery Live’s generative design capabilities can, and should, be used for more than just brackets. The real-time interactive topology optimization offers insights that can benefit any design situation.
Take the design of a civil structure — like a staircase. By providing only a set of stairs, floating in air, Discovery Live can generate a support structure that holds the stairs in place as firmly as possible.
The support structure is as beautiful as it is unique, and the number of variations are endless depending on how you connect the stairs to the surrounding environment.
A civil engineer or architect will not construct this exact shape, but they might use the result to inspire their own structure design that is both appealing and high-performing.
Nature has been using generative design for millions of years. It’s about time our industrial designs catch up.
The fundamental process of design has always involved repeated experimentation and adjustment. At its heart, Discovery Live is an experimentation and learning tool. With the addition of real-time interactive topology optimization, a great deal of computation and complexity can be harnessed to provide engineering insight like never before.
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