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Clément Bucco-Lechat - Creative Commons 3.0
31 August 2017

Topology Optimisation – Learning from Nature

Products designed using topology optimisation are often organic looking. Round flowing shapes, with voids and with added air. Typically these geometries are difficult to manufacture, except using 3D printing or additive manufacturing. For this reason, topology optimisation and additive manufacturing go hand-in-hand.

Learning from nature

Whether it is a tree or a bone, nature is very efficient with material and energy. When the environment changes, for example ground erosion or deforestation, the roots and trunk will adapt to the new situation. This adaptation also happens with the bones in your body. After long intensive training bones will reinforce itself in the weak places. And vice-versa, if you are not exercising for long periods of time, bones will loose strength. All this, so you’re not dragging around excess bones mass unnecessarily.

Early 19th century, the German scientist Wolff already knew that bones adapt itself to heavy or light exercise. In the 1990’s further research resulted in an software algorithm mimicking this behaviour, named topology optimisation. Looking at topology optimised parts, like the one below, you can clearly see the resemblance to bones.

By using topology optimisation, we can create strong and robust products with the minimum amount of material. So, just like nature, as efficient as possible, minimising material use. Nice and light. (Why lightweight is so important can be read here).

Gilbert Peters

I’m the founder and owner of Fransiscó. I have a passion for lightweight and high performance engineering. In this blogs you will find occasionally a write-up of things that keep me busy. I you want to know more about my background, please have a look here… 

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