Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 175–192 | Cite as

Bridging topology optimization and additive manufacturing

  • Tomás Zegard
  • Glaucio H. PaulinoEmail author


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.


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



The authors appreciate constructive comments and insightful suggestions from the anonymous reviewers. We are thankful to the support from the US National Science Foundation under grant CMMI #1335160. We also acknowledge the support from SOM (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP) and from the Donald B. and Elizabeth M. Willett endowment at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Any opinion, finding, conclusions or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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