Even though ceramics is a “light” material, it makes sense for many applications to reduce the mass used to a necessary minimum. Additive manufacturing gives us the opportunity to break new ground in design and realize designs that were previously unthinkable. A few weeks ago we at WZR became aware of a contribution from Alexander Brunner:

Topology optimization: the way to the technical and economic optimum

When engineers design load-bearing structures, they are looking for the answer to the question: How do we achieve the technical and economic optimum?

And it is exactly this question that helps us to answer topology optimization in the best possible way. How? By approaching the optimum from two opposite directions …

On the one hand, topology optimization helps us to find the “hard-working” material in the field of tension between load introduction and load absorption. The technical advantage: We reinforce the highly stressed force paths and fulfil the required load-bearing function (strength, stability, stiffness). On the other hand, topology optimization helps us to identify the “lazy” material. The economic advantage: We free the construction from the less stressed material and drop the material ballast.

So: Do not wait until the competition “motivates” you to optimize your designs. Act proactively, create topological designs and get even closer to the technical and economic optimum.

At WZR, we have taken up the idea and produced and tested prismatic specimens (Figure 1) and samples with an optimized design (Figure 2) by Alexander Brunner using binder jetting of aluminum oxide. The sample with an optimized design requires about 44% less material than the solid body. The test was performed as a 3-point bending load. This creates tensile stresses on the underside of the specimen, which usually also cause the specimen to fail.

Figure 1: Samples of aluminium oxide (125 x 25 x 25 mm3) produced by binder jetting
Figure 2: Optimized design in alumina (125 x 25 x 25 mm3), produced by binder jetting
The prismatic specimens also broke in the middle during the test as expected. The samples with optimized design, on the other hand, all broke in the same place – near the support (Figure 3).

The breaking force leading to failure was approx. 20 % lower in the design-optimized bars than in the prismatic specimens. However, since the failure did not occur in the middle, further design improvements in the edge area are necessary and will certainly continue.

Figure 3: Specimen failure with optimized design
These initial investigations show that topology optimization is also of great importance for ceramic components. We will continue to work on this and keep you informed.

Contact: w.kollenberg@wzr.cc

Topology optimization for ceramic components