Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


General Engineering

Committee Chair

R. Bruce Madigan

First Advisor

Peter Lucon

Second Advisor

Jerome Downey

Third Advisor

Scott Coguill


The increasing effectiveness of additive manufacturing has contributed to increased fabrication of complex parts with less material waste. With this process, complex shapes that can reduce the weight of the component can be explored. Topology optimization of a component uses computer software to remove and add material in locations throughout the design volume. The optimized design output results in a reduced weight component that meets the performance requirements of the original design. There are many optimization methods, one of which is the solid isotropic material with penalization (SIMP) method. An objective function is defined to give the optimization method an objective for the algorithm to iterate against while a design variable is altered after each iteration to achieve the objective. Different constraints are applied to keep the optimization method within a set of bounds defined by the user and the components original geometry. A penalization factor is applied to the optimization method algorithm to refine the final solution to solid and void regions so that a three-dimensional printer can manufacture the component.

Various optimization programs were explored for the topology optimization of a beam designed for three point loading. A solid beam that has not been optimized is used as the initial design for optimization as well as a baseline for comparison of the different optimization software packages. Five different methods for optimization were used which include: MATLAB with penalization; MATLAB without penalization and variable thicknesses; ParetoCloud optimization; and two simple methods previously used for component lightening. The components were printed with a fused filament fabrication process that extrudes material building the component layer by layer. The printed beams were then tested in a three point bending test until failure. Comparisons of the different optimized beams were performed using calculations from the resulting load-deflection curves.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of General Engineering: Mechanical Option