Topology Study

Use a Topology study to explore design iterations of a component that satisfy a given optimization goal and geometric constraints.

Available in SOLIDWORKS Simulation Professional and SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium.

A Topology study performs nonparametric topology optimization of parts. Starting with a maximum design space (which represents the maximum allowed size for a component) and considering all applied loads, fixtures, and manufacturing constraints, the topology optimization seeks a new material layout, within the boundaries of the maximum allowed geometry, by redistributing the material. The optimized component satisfies all the required mechanical and manufacturing requirements.

For example, you can optimize the part of a car hood opening mechanism, as shown in the image below in blue, in terms of strength and weight (image courtesy of Ring Brothers LLC).

With a Topology study, you can set a design goal to find the best stiffness to weight ratio, minimize the mass, or reduce the maximum displacement of a component.
Start with the Best Stiffness to Weight ratio goal to get an initial optimized shape of your component.

In addition to the optimization goal, you define design constraints to ensure that the required mechanical properties, such as maximum deflection, percentage of mass removed, and also manufacturing processes are satisfied. For a successful Topology study run, the design proposal reached by the iterative optimization process fulfills all structural and manufacturing requirements entered.

In the Study PropertyManager, select Topology Study.

To set up a Topology study, you define:

Maximum Sized Model

Select a single body to perform topology optimization. The initial geometry of the body is referenced as the Maximum Sized Model.

One Goal

The optimization goal drives the mathematical formulation of the optimization algorithm. In a Topology Study tree, right-click Goals and Constraints. In the Goals and Constraints PropertyManager, select one of the optimization objectives: Best Stiffness to Weight Ratio, Minimize Mass, or Minimize Maximum Displacement.

When you select Best Stiffness to Weight Ratio, the algorithm seeks to minimize the global compliance of the model, which is a measure of the overall flexibility (reciprocal of stiffness). Compliance is defined by the sum of strain energies of all elements.


Constraints limit the design space solutions. They enforce limits to: percentage of mass to be removed, performance targets for the stresses (FOS), displacements, or eigenfrequencies observed in your model. You define optimization constraints in the Goals and Constraints PropertyManager. The user interface filters the type of constraints you can apply based on the goal you select.

Preserved Regions

These are regions of your model that are excluded from the optimization process and are preserved in the final shape. The geometric entities where you apply loads and fixtures are preserved by default. To select the regions to exclude from optimization, go to Topology > Options > Preserved (Frozen) Region settings. To select additional faces to preserve, right-click Manufacturing Control, and select Add Preserved Region.

Manufacturing Controls

Geometric constraints enforced by manufacturing processes ensure that the optimized part is manufacturable. Right-click Manufacturing Controls, and define the required controls like De-mold Direction, Thickness Control, or Symmetry Control. In the De-mold Direction PropertyManager, you can also apply a stamping constraint to create holes across the thickness of a part. With the Symmetry Control, you enforce half, quarter, or one-eighth symmetry to the optimized shape of the component.

Depending on the settings of the optimization goal, manufacturing controls, mesh, loads, and boundary conditions, the optimization process yields an acceptable design that is a derivative of the initial maximum design space.