Topology optimization of 3D self-supporting structures for additive manufacturing

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The potential of topology optimization to amplify the benefits of additive manufacturing (AM), by fully exploiting the vast design space that AM allows, is widely recognized. However, existing topology optimization approaches do not consider AM-specific limitations during the design process, resulting in designs that are not self-supporting. This leads to additional effort and costs in post-processing and use of sacrificial support structures. To overcome this difficulty, this paper presents a topology optimization formulation that includes a simplified AM fabrication model implemented as a layerwise filtering procedure. Unprintable geometries are effectively excluded from the design space, resulting in fully self-supporting optimized designs. The procedure is demonstrated on numerical examples involving compliance minimization, eigenfrequency maximization and compliant mechanism design. Despite the applied restrictions, in suitable orientations fully printable AM-restrained designs matched the performance of reference designs obtained by conventional topology optimization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
Issue numberPart A
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Topology optimization
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Overhang angle
  • Self-supporting designs
  • Manufacturing restrictions


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