Topology Optimization Add-in for SOLIDWORKS
How to Add Topology Optimization to SOLIDWORKS?
ParetoWorks is a SOLIDWORKS add-in that allows engineers to perform topology optimizations on their parts based on stiffness or strength. This software uses simulation and optimization algorithms to lightweight parts without sacrificing the structural integrity of the parts.
ParetoWorks can automate the lightweighting optimization of a part based on stiffness and strength. (All images courtesy of SOLIDWORKS and SciArt.)
The software imports the SOLIDWORKS geometry as an STL file. The program then runs a finite element analysis (FEA) solver and a design optimization engine to give engineers an idea of how to reduce the weight of a part. Though ParetoWorks operates within the SOLIDWORKS framework, it is also a cloud technology available through a browser.
“Design optimization lies at the heart of modern engineering,” said Krishnan Suresh, mechanical engineering professor and CTO of SciArt, makers of ParetoWorks. “It is critical in reducing cost, reducing material, reducing weight and increasing quality, and is a driving force behind innovation. [However], design optimization can be very tricky and difficult for humans to carry out manually.”
To set up the problem, the user needs to input the units of the system, any boundary conditions, the limiting variable for optimization (stiffness or strength) and the forces the part will experience. All of these inputs are made in a simplified field of entry.
“[ParetoWorks’] focus is to make sure these structural loads are done right,” said Praveen Yadav, director of engineering at SciArt, makers of ParetoWorks. “We have the capability of handling thermomechanical loading, transient loading, modal analysis and buckling analysis. We include all of these analyses in the optimization for multi-constrained, multi-material and multi-load optimizations.”
The optimizations can also take constraints into consideration when assessing the part. Some of these constraints include:
- Maximum volume fraction
- Stiffness and displacement constraints
- Manufacturing constraints like casting draw direction
- Assembly constraints like which surfaces to maintain
The Benefits of Subtractive Topology Optimization to Additive Topology Optimization
ParetoWorks isn’t the only topology optimization software out there. However, many of them are based on additive optimization of the part as opposed to subtractive optimizations.
Though additive can give engineers a good starting point for a part based on a design space and loads, it does take a lot of data to perform this optimization. Subtractive optimization, however, requires less data but it will need to start with a part before the optimization can be performed.
Instead of mapping the whole design space, ParetoWorks uses subtractive optimization to modify the geometry, saving data costs.
“[Additive optimizations] try to map out the entire design space, this requires the storage of a lot of data, which gets expensive as you get new designs and you compare to the existing stored variable,” said Yadav. “ParetoWorks, on the other hand, attempts to stay as close as possible to the optimality front. This reduces the requirement of storing data.”
“All we care about is where we are right now and where we are headed,” Yadav clarified. “Based on that, we can choose a suitable search direction and make small increments to update the geometry. Once the geometry is updated we also perform fixed-point filtration to make sure it is robust and stable in that region.”
Since the entire design space isn’t mapped out, engineers might wonder how ParetoWorks handles the constraints. When performing this optimization, if the part hits a constraint made by the engineer, the software will reassess the step size for subsequent iterations in the optimization. This will slow down the changes made to the part and allow for a more detailed localized search for the best design in that region.
About the Author
Shawn Wasserman (@ShawnWasserman) is the Internet of Things (IoT) and Simulation Editor at ENGINEERING.com. He is passionate about ensuring engineers make the right decisions when using computer-aided engineering (CAE) software and IoT development tools. Shawn has a Masters in Bio-Engineering from the University of Guelph and a BASc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.