Bridging topology optimization and additive manufacturing

Tomás Zegard, Glaucio H. Paulino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

358 Scopus citations


Topology optimization is a technique that allows for increasingly efficient designs with minimal a priori decisions. Because of the complexity and intricacy of the solutions obtained, topology optimization was often constrained to research and theoretical studies. Additive manufacturing, a rapidly evolving field, fills the gap between topology optimization and application. Additive manufacturing has minimal limitations on the shape and complexity of the design, and is currently evolving towards new materials, higher precision and larger build sizes. Two topology optimization methods are addressed: the ground structure method and density-based topology optimization. The results obtained from these topology optimization methods require some degree of post-processing before they can be manufactured. A simple procedure is described by which output suitable for additive manufacturing can be generated. In this process, some inherent issues of the optimization technique may be magnified resulting in an unfeasible or bad product. In addition, this work aims to address some of these issues and propose methodologies by which they may be alleviated. The proposed framework has applications in a number of fields, with specific examples given from the fields of health, architecture and engineering. In addition, the generated output allows for simple communication, editing, and combination of the results into more complex designs. For the specific case of three-dimensional density-based topology optimization, a tool suitable for result inspection and generation of additive manufacturing output is also provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-192
Number of pages18
JournalStructural and Multidisciplinary Optimization
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Control and Optimization
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Density-based topology optimization
  • Ground structure method
  • Structural manufacturing
  • Three-dimensional optimal structures


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