LimitState:FORM's superior optimization technology

One of the key drivers of engineering design over the last 20 years has been the use of novel optimization routines to enable engineers to identify new geometric forms for components - forms with reduce mass and increase strength by using new, often complex, structures for components. 

An example of a voxel mesh: a model of a cone represented as a voxel mesh. This shows how hard it can be to discern the original form within a voxel mesh. Topographical optimization of engineering components results in far more complex meshes, that are much harder to interpret. This makes optimization workflows difficult. 

An example of a voxel mesh: a model of a cone represented as a voxel mesh. This shows how hard it can be to discern the original form within a voxel mesh. Topographical optimization of engineering components results in far more complex meshes, that are much harder to interpret. This makes optimization workflows difficult. 

Thus far, most 3D optimization technology has relied on "topographical optimization". This approach generates a representation of the lattice geometry as voxels - the three-dimensional design version of pixels arranged as a lattice mesh.

This approach can be effective - but all too often, topographical optimization results in the dreaded "blob" - a mesh which is hard to interpret and needs lots of work to make sure it will print. 

Design engineers often find that these meshes require manual interpretation and time consuming remodelling before they a design concept is complete. It is an iterative process that can take hours or days of engineer and CAD technician time because the meshes are often some way from being manufacturable. 

While topographical optimization has its place, we have adopted a hybrid approach which has been proven in other fields of engineering which can generate superior results, and is usually much easier to work with: layout optimization and geometry optimization. This technology directly identify structurally efficient lattice forms.

A complex engineering component for additive manufacturing which has been optimized using layout optimization. The screenshot shows the output of LimitState;FORM: an optimized vector model, not a voxel mesh, which can be examined and edited like any other model. It can also be exported to FEA packages in seconds. For very complex AM products such as this, layout optimization is much easier and faster. 

Our layout and geometry optimization technology identifies the most efficient structure to carry a load within a prescribed design domain. A highly efficient solver is then used to consider all possible combinations of potential truss elements, determining which elements form the optimal arrangement.

In AM, this means that the technology analyses millions of possible arrangements of a model’s geometry and picks the best, optimal solution. The output of a layout optimization process includes element forces, geometry and crucially, a model of the optimized structure or component. This vector model can be easily read into a wide variety of CAD applications, or prepared for additive manufacture.

If you are an engineer who would like discuss this technology we'd be very happy to talk to you. Drop us a note via the contact form with any questions.