Advances in 3D printing enable the fabrication of structures with unprecedented geometric complexity. In design engineering, the benefits of this manufacturing flexibility are probably best exploited in combination with the design of structures by topology optimization. Based on a volumetric element-wise parametrization of the design space, topology optimization aims at finding the optimal material distribution for a performance measure (e.g., maximum stiffness), under a given set of constraints. Besides their highly optimized physical properties, the resultant shapes typically exhibit good visual qualities, which are appreciated in industrial design and architecture.
In the first part of this course, we review the basics of topology optimization, and density-based approaches for stiffness maximization in particular. In the second part, we focus on some recent developments that control the resultant geometric features for 3D printing. MatLab code is provided for both parts.