Accessibility of support structures in topology optimization for additive manufacturing

Emiel van de Ven*, Can Ayas, Matthijs Langelaar, Robert Maas, Fred van Keulen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Additive manufacturing (AM) and topology optimization (TO) have a synergetic relation, as AM can produce complex TO designs, and TO provides high-performance parts that utilize the form freedom provided by AM. Recently, TO has been tailored more toward AM with the inclusion of the minimum allowable overhang angle as a design constraint: resulting designs can be built without any support structures. This work is an extension thereof, by allowing support structures only if they are accessible, such that they can be removed after manufacturing. This is achieved by applying a conventional overhang filter twice, combined with basic operations such as geometry inversion, union, and intersection. The result is an accessibility-aware overhang filter that can be incorporated in TO. Compared with conventional overhang filtered designs, the accessibility filter results in increased part performance and better convergence behavior. Furthermore, a modular filter structure is presented to easily construct the accessibility filter, and its effectiveness is demonstrated on several numerical cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2038-2056
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • accessibility of supports
  • additive manufacturing
  • overhang
  • topology design


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