Topology Optimization deals with the topology of a mesh model. Optimizing the mesh generally consists of reducing the triangle count on planar faces, and maintaining, or increasing the mesh density on areas with curvature. By optimizing the mesh this way, smaller files are possible without a loss of detail.
Topology Optimization is also a factor when creating models in a mesh modeler, or sub divisional modeler which works at different mesh levels.
Generative Design applies to nearly any design. You design, then identify problems, then redesign...etc. Every year new cars are designed and sold, it is a generative process that has been going on for a hundred years.
Another process which can be related is that of material/weight optimization. This model is a great example of that process. When I think of what 3D printers are capable of, this is the kind of products I want 3D printers to build:
My take on this, is that topology optimization is like a subset of generative design. By this I mean that based on your input parameters topology optimization gives typically one result, while generative design can produce thousands.
In a more general sense, topology optimization includes evolutionary generatives but also any minimization of a variable (like mass) within a specified design space. Thus mass can be conserved in mass-critical systems like space-deployed equipment, as heavy billet parts can be reproduced lightweight in 3D printers.
Generative Design, Is a process of defining the constraints and forces of the imaginary design then the software will calculate all the shape possibilities that satisfies the initial design parameters.
I second that, but why is it sexier to say Generative Design that Topology Optimization. Only Autodesk I see actually does Generative Des...
I've used the tools in SW 2018, Fusion360, Ansys and Solidthinking Inspire, any of those programs need a design space in order to optimize an structure, and of course the loads and constraints.
Besides calling them generative design or topology optimization it depends on the user application and his/her intention with the design, if you start from scratch it would be called "Generative Design" as it's your first iteration, and probably you won't have any information on how the structure might be besides the workload.
If you have a previous part and you want to improve the strength or reduce the overall mass , then it would be called Topology optimization.
Sincerely I don't care if the program says one or the other, to me it's the user who is deciding what he/she will be doing.