From Topology Optimization Design to Additive Manufacturing: Today’s Success and Tomorrow’s Roadmap


This work grew out of rapid developments of topology optimization approaches and emerging industry trends of “3D printing” techniques, the latter bridging to a large extent the gap between innovative design and advanced manufacturing. In the present work, we first make an application-oriented review of topology optimization approaches in an attempt to illustrate their efficacy in the design of high-performance structures. Subsequently, a broad panorama of additive manufacturing is provided with a particular interest in its application in the automotive and the aerospace sectors. Taking an aerospace bracket as an example, we further go through an entire procedure from topology optimization design to additive manufacturing, then to performance verification. In the interest of cultivating a long-term partnership upon this combination, we finally examine, in face of present and near future, limitations of additive manufacturing in the loss of geometric accuracy and performance deterioration, and provide a roadmap for future work.

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Change history

  • 08 June 2020

    There are errors in reference number 190 of this article which needs to be correctly read as.


  1. 1.

    In engineering practice, the critical mass requirement is considered alternatively as a volumetric constraint in the case of single material formulation.

  2. 2.

    In view of the discrete nature, Sigmund [43] has categorized the ESO-based approach as a discrete form of the density-based approach.

  3. 3.

    Please note that the Micro-electro-mechanical system is more popularly known as MEMS.

  4. 4.

    The buy-to-fly ratio refers to the weight of the raw material purchased compared to the weight of the final part.

  5. 5.

    BLT is one of China’s largest manufacturers of metal additive manufacturing systems.

  6. 6.

    The titanium metal powder, for example, can cost about $200–400 per kilogram as reported in [166].

  7. 7.

    Compared to destructive tesings such as tensile test, IIT is considered non-destructive since the induced plastic deformation on the specimen is within the micron range.


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The first author would like to give special thanks to Liang Xia, from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, who worked closely with the author on every step of the research and helped to bring the article into its current shape. We would also like to thank Caroline Verdari and Jing Wen, from Université de Technologie de Compiègne, France, for their kind help with the preparation of the indentation specimens. The financial support from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFB1102800), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (11672239, 51735005, 11620101002) is also acknowledged. This work has also been supported by the French National Research Agency (ANR) through the research grant Micromorfing, ANR-14-CE07-0035-01.

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Meng, L., Zhang, W., Quan, D. et al. From Topology Optimization Design to Additive Manufacturing: Today’s Success and Tomorrow’s Roadmap. Arch Computat Methods Eng 27, 805–830 (2020).

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