Over the past decade there has been an increasing demand for light-weight components for the automotive and aerospace industries. This has led to significant advancement in Topology Optimization methods, especially in developing new algorithms which can consider multi-material design. While Multi-Material Topology Optimization (MMTO) can be used to determine the optimum material layout and choice for a given engineering design problem, it fails to consider practical manufacturing constraints. One such constraint is the practical joining of multi-component designs.
In this paper, a new method will be proposed for simultaneously performing MMTO and Joint Topology Optimization (JTO). This algorithm will use a serial approach to loop through the MMTO and JTO phases to obtain a truly optimum design which considers both aspects.
A case study is performed on an automotive ladder frame chassis component as a proof of concept for the proposed approach. Two loops of the proposed process resulted in a reduction of components and in the number of joints used between them. This translates into a tangible improvement in the manufacturability of the MMTO design.
Ultimately, being able to consider additional manufacturing constraints in the Topology Optimization process can greatly benefit research and development efforts. A better design is reached with fewer iterations, thus driving down engineering costs. Topology Optimization can help in determining a cost effective and efficient design which address existing structural design challenges.