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Topology Optimization: A New Way to Create 3D Designs

Siemens Experimenter Siemens Experimenter
Siemens Experimenter

As an NX CAD Engineer in Siemens PLM Software, I have worked with my users to build “3D Shape.” This means the intention for “3D Shape” belongs not to me, but to our great NX users or future users.


The users’ intent is shown to me in many ways. Sometimes, it is just in conversation; in many cases, it is with 2D or 3D materials. A pencil drawing, sketch, Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator file, or 2D CAD drawing are all examples of 2D representations, while 3D materials take the form of a scan, STL of clay, polystyrene or chemical wood model, or a 3D IGS model that is not “manufacturable” or “millable.”


These are all a kind of traditional design intent—a way of conveying “3D Shape” information that is thought of and created by humans. Human’s idea, thought, hand or touch goes into each one. Today, we have a new design intent that is created by CAE topology optimization and can be used in the NX modeling application. The CAE parameters are set by an individual – so the user determines the location of a fixed portion of the design, where a pin goes, how much load is applied, the location of pressure or torque, and the directions of each. The “3D Shape” itself though is created by CAE Analysis topology optimization.



Fig.1: A Bike Frame that is extracted from a large design space. The shape looks like a real, existing product in the market. Do we think that topology optimization can create a reasonable shape?



Fig.2: Lightweighted Game Controller keeps the original operability. Original CAD Model on the left, topology optimization result on the right.



Fig.3: When there is a large free design space, we see more variations created by topology optimization. A few polygon modeling operations are done with original CAD parts. The images above show the different results you get from changing the topology optimization settings.


The output of topology optimization is a JT facet body that can be converted to a convergent facet body. Once that is done, the convergent body can be used with a traditional CAD body. If we need to rebuild the facet body as a normal CAD body instead, we can use NX Reverse Engineering functions to create an exceptionally high quality model in a short time. Thus, we can use topology optimization results in a CAD modeling workflow without any difficulties.


I look forward to seeing how our users will leverage this technology to take advantage of topology optimization results in their designs.

Siemens Valued Contributor

Love these examples of using Topology Optimization! It's a great tool that's getting a lot of people excited.



I want to creat and display a 3D shell in matlab.(for example a barrel with 100 element) and I have a thickness vector(100*1) that containes the thicknesses of 100 shell I have an array that containes coordinates of shell nodes and element and a vector that containes thickness of shell element.

Now how can I display this 3D shell that each element , depend on value of its thickness was different in colour(gray)?.

Or how can I joint coordinate array and thickness vector or map the thickness vector on the shape of 3D shell and display a gray 3D shell? thank you

more explain

this question is about topology optimization. in final I must be have a figure like in attachment.i have a vector with size 100*1 for example [1 0 0 1 0 ….]. the name of this vector is thickness vector. ‘1’ means solid and ‘0’ means void in thickness vector. and I have an array (XYZ) for ploting 3D shell shap . I meshed this 3D shell to 100 rectangle elements. so corresponding each element in 3D shelh I have one number( 0 or 1) in thickness vector. now how can I display thickness of each element on output 3D shell plot with colour(e.g in final plot we can see each element that is solid be black and each element that is void be white ) .or how can I link or map thickness vector on the shell plot? address of picture: thank you

if you have matlab code about shell topology optimization please give me


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