Topology Optimization and Generative Design have received a great deal of press about their ability to greatly reduce the weight of components without sacrificing performance. To date, however, there are few examples where such designs have been implemented, primarily because of the difficulty and cost of manufacturing optimized components in production.
This case study covers a foundry owner’s effort to use topology optimization to redesign an investment cast instrument housing. His customer informed him that the aircraft component that he had been casting for several years was a candidate for light-weighting and that he would likely lose the order. He decided to be proactive and look for an alternative casting design that would not only meet the weight reduction goals of the manufacturer but would result in fuel savings greater than the increased cost of manufacture. Although it presented significant manufacturing challenges, the resulting design not only exceeded the weight reduction objectives of the customer, but the expected fuel savings far exceeded the increased cost of manufacture.