Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


College of Engineering


Peter Schuster

Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Topology Optimization is a lightweighting method based on finite element analysis that produces a part with optimum material distribution in the design space. Results from topology optimization often have organic shapes and curves that are difficult if not impossible to machine with traditional subtractive manufacturing methods. This paper analyzes the implementation of the Solidworks® Topology Optimization add-in into the mechanical design process and discusses required postprocessing to ensure manufacturability of the optimized part though a case study on two example parts. Results of traditional optimization, topology optimization and “selective” optimization (optimization using the results from topology optimization to selectively remove material to ensure manufacturability) were compared in terms of weight reduction and time required for optimization. In addition, simplified lightweighted parts were experimentally tested to validate the results of Solidworks® FEA and Topology Optimization to ensure physical part performance and increase confidence in future model results. Overall, it was determined that due to the large amount of time to setup and run, topology optimization may not be the most effective lightweighting method if time is a significant design constraint. However, for some specific applications where part weight is of major importance or where additive manufacturing may be a possible manufacturing process, the benefits of topology optimization’s material removal capability outweigh the required solution time.