Topology optimization (TO), a numerical tool that optimizes the material distribution within a structure, is being increasingly used in industry to produce structurally efficient designs. While difficult to produce using subtractive manufacturing methods, the increased design freedom allotted by additive manufacturing enables engineers to exploit the designs obtained using TO. As additive manufacturing is more widely adopted, design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) tools are being developed. This presents an opportunity to introduce TO into DfAM best practices to improve cost and weight savings of parts and assemblies. To maximize the benefit of both tools, a consolidated topology optimization and DfAM design approach is proposed. The proposed design approach incorporates a feasibility analysis designed to assess the viability of using additive manufacturing to produce a part or assembly design obtained using TO. Common challenges associated with DfAM, such as producing thin wall features, joining, and the consideration of build direction and support material, are addressed. The efficacy of the consolidated design approach is demonstrated by its successful implementation for the redesign of a Bombardier Global 7500 aircraft cockpit pedestal assembly. Most significantly, a part and joint count reduction of 73% was achieved without any required changes to interfacing components. Additionally, the manufacturing and installation costs were lowered due to the reduced assembly complexity and the use of AM. The proposed design was validated with a linear static stress analysis. The proposed consolidated design approach is outlined such that engineers can apply it directly to a general assembly design.
- The best practices for incorporating TO with DfAM introduced in the current paper will increase the applicability and efficacy of DfAM for general assembly design in various industries
- The proposed consolidated design approach combines TO and DfAM in an effective way to allow engineers to produce the next generation of lightweight, strong and cost-efficient assembly designs
- The complexity and cost of assemblies can be greatly reduced by utilizing the proposed consolidated design approach for parts consolidation