Structural Topology Optimization
The main objective of this Special Column is to bring together the new and innovative ideas, experiences and research results from researchers and practitioners on all aspects of Structural Topology Optimization.
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    Zhen-Pei WANG, Zhifeng XIE, Leong Hien POH
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2020, 15(2): 279-293.

    In structural design optimization involving transient responses, time integration scheme plays a crucial role in sensitivity analysis because it affects the accuracy and stability of transient analysis. In this work, the influence of time integration scheme is studied numerically for the adjoint shape sensitivity analysis of two benchmark transient heat conduction problems within the framework of isogeometric analysis. It is found that (i) the explicit approach (β = 0) and semi-implicit approach with β<0.5 impose a strict stability condition of the transient analysis; (ii) the implicit approach (β=1) and semi-implicit approach with β > 0.5 are generally preferred for their unconditional stability; and (iii) Crank–Nicolson type approach (β=0.5) may induce a large error for large time-step sizes due to the oscillatory solutions. The numerical results also show that the time-step size does not have to be chosen to satisfy the critical conditions for all of the eigen-frequencies. It is recommended to use β0.75 for unconditional stability, such that the oscillation condition is much less critical than the Crank–Nicolson scheme, and the accuracy is higher than a fully implicit approach.

    Emmanuel TROMME, Atsushi KAWAMOTO, James K. GUEST
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2020, 15(1): 151-165.

    Advanced manufacturing processes such as additive manufacturing offer now the capability to control material placement at unprecedented length scales and thereby dramatically open up the design space. This includes the considerations of new component topologies as well as the architecture of material within a topology offering new paths to creating lighter and more efficient structures. Topology optimization is an ideal tool for navigating this multiscale design problem and leveraging the capabilities of advanced manufacturing technologies. However, the resulting design problem is computationally challenging as very fine discretizations are needed to capture all micro-structural details. In this paper, a method based on reduction techniques is proposed to perform efficiently topology optimization at multiple scales. This method solves the design problem without length scale separation, i.e., without iterating between the two scales. Ergo, connectivity between space-varying micro-structures is naturally ensured. Several design problems for various types of micro-structural periodicity are performed to illustrate the method, including applications to infill patterns in additive manufacturing.

    Xianda XIE, Shuting WANG, Ming YE, Zhaohui XIA, Wei ZHAO, Ning JIANG, Manman XU
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2020, 15(1): 100-122.

    We present an energy penalization method for isogeometric topology optimization using moving morphable components (ITO–MMC), propose an ITO–MMC with an additional bilateral or periodic symmetric constraint for symmetric structures, and then extend the proposed energy penalization method to an ITO–MMC with a symmetric constraint. The energy penalization method can solve the problems of numerical instability and convergence for the ITO–MMC and the ITO–MMC subjected to the structural symmetric constraint with asymmetric loads. Topology optimization problems of asymmetric, bilateral symmetric, and periodic symmetric structures are discussed to validate the effectiveness of the proposed energy penalization approach. Compared with the conventional ITO–MMC, the energy penalization method for the ITO–MMC can improve the convergence rate from 18.6% to 44.5% for the optimization of the asymmetric structure. For the ITO–MMC under a bilateral symmetric constraint, the proposed method can reduce the objective value by 5.6% and obtain a final optimized topology that has a clear boundary with decreased iterations. For the ITO–MMC under a periodic symmetric constraint, the proposed energy penalization method can dramatically reduce the number of iterations and obtain a speedup of more than 2.

    Junjie ZHAN, Yangjun LUO
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 201-212.

    This paper presents a new robust topology optimization framework for hinge-free compliant mecha- nisms with spatially varying material uncertainties, which are described using a non-probabilistic bounded field model. Bounded field uncertainties are efficiently represented by a reduced set of uncertain-but-bounded coefficients on the basis of the series expansion method. Robust topology optimization of compliant mechanisms is then defined to minimize the variation in output displacement under constraints of the mean displacement and predefined material volume. The nest optimization problem is solved using a gradient-based optimization algorithm. Numerical examples are presented to illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed method for circumventing hinges in topology optimization of compliant mechanisms.

    Mariana MORETTI, Emílio C. N. SILVA
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 190-200.

    In recent years, the new technologies and discoveries on manufacturing materials have encouraged researchers to investigate the appearance of material properties that are not naturally available. Materials featuring a specific stiffness, or structures that combine non-structural and structural functions are applied in the aerospace, electronics and medical industry fields. Particularly, structures designed for dynamic actuation with reduced vibration response are the focus of this work. The bi-material and multifunctional concepts are considered for the design of a controlled piezoelectric actuator with vibration suppression by means of the topology optimization method (TOM). The bi-material piezoelectric actuator (BPEA) has its metallic host layer designed by the TOM, which defines the structural function, and the electric function is given by two piezo-ceramic layers that act as a sensor and an actuator coupled with a constant gain active velocity feedback control (AVFC). The AVFC, provided by the piezoelectric layers, affects the structural damping of the system through the velocity state variables readings in time domain. The dynamic equation analyzed throughout the optimization procedure is fully elaborated and implemented. The dynamic response for the rectangular four-noded finite element analysis is obtained by the Newmark’s time-integration method, which is applied to the physical and the adjoint systems, given that the adjoint formulation is needed for the sensitivity analysis. A gradient-based optimization method is applied to minimize the displacement energy output measured at a predefined degree-of-freedom of the BPEA when a transient mechanical load is applied. Results are obtained for different control gain values to evaluate their influence on the final topology.

    Markus J. GEISS, Jorge L. BARRERA, Narasimha BODDETI, Kurt MAUTE
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 153-170.

    Regularization of the level-set (LS) field is a critical part of LS-based topology optimization (TO) approaches. Traditionally this is achieved by advancing the LS field through the solution of a Hamilton-Jacobi equation combined with a reinitialization scheme. This approach, however, may limit the maximum step size and introduces discontinuities in the design process. Alternatively, energy functionals and intermediate LS value penalizations have been proposed. This paper introduces a novel LS regularization approach based on a signed distance field (SDF) which is applicable to explicit LS-based TO. The SDF is obtained using the heat method (HM) and is reconstructed for every design in the optimization process. The governing equations of the HM, as well as the ones describing the physical response of the system of interest, are discretized by the extended finite element method (XFEM). Numerical examples for problems modeled by linear elasticity, nonlinear hyperelasticity and the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations in two and three dimensions are presented to show the applicability of the proposed scheme to a broad range of design optimization problems.

    Yu-Chin CHAN, Kohei SHINTANI, Wei CHEN
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 141-152.

    Enabled by advancements in multi-material additive manufacturing, lightweight lattice structures consisting of networks of periodic unit cells have gained popularity due to their extraordinary performance and wide array of functions. This work proposes a density-based robust topology optimization method for meso- or macro-scale multi-material lattice structures under any combination of material and load uncertainties. The method utilizes a new generalized material interpolation scheme for an arbitrary number of materials, and employs univariate dimension reduction and Gauss-type quadrature to quantify and propagate uncertainty. By formulating the objective function as a weighted sum of the mean and standard deviation of compliance, the tradeoff between optimality and robustness can be studied and controlled. Examples of a cantilever beam lattice structure under various material and load uncertainty cases exhibit the efficiency and flexibility of the approach. The accuracy of univariate dimension reduction is validated by comparing the results to the Monte Carlo approach.

    Long JIANG, Yang GUO, Shikui CHEN, Peng WEI, Na LEI, Xianfeng David GU
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 171-189.

    In this paper, a parametric level-set-based topology optimization framework is proposed to concurrently optimize the structural topology at the macroscale and the effective infill properties at the micro/meso scale. The concurrent optimization is achieved by a computational framework combining a new parametric level set approach with mathematical programming. Within the proposed framework, both the structural boundary evolution and the effective infill property optimization can be driven by mathematical programming, which is more advantageous compared with the conventional partial differential equation-driven level set approach. Moreover, the proposed approach will be more efficient in handling nonlinear problems with multiple constraints. Instead of using radial basis functions (RBF), in this paper, we propose to construct a new type of cardinal basis functions (CBF) for the level set function parameterization. The proposed CBF parameterization ensures an explicit impose of the lower and upper bounds of the design variables. This overcomes the intrinsic disadvantage of the conventional RBF-based parametric level set method, where the lower and upper bounds of the design variables oftentimes have to be set by trial and error. A variational distance regularization method is utilized in this research to regularize the level set function to be a desired distance-regularized shape. With the distance information embedded in the level set model, the wrapping boundary layer and the interior infill region can be naturally defined. The isotropic infill achieved via the mesoscale topology optimization is conformally fit into the wrapping boundary layer using the shape-preserving conformal mapping method, which leads to a hierarchical physical structure with optimized overall topology and effective infill properties. The proposed method is expected to provide a timely solution to the increasing demand for multiscale and multifunctional structure design.

    Manman XU, Shuting WANG, Xianda XIE
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 222-234.

    Maximizing the fundamental eigenfrequency is an efficient means for vibrating structures to avoid resonance and noises. In this study, we develop an isogeometric analysis (IGA)-based level set model for the formulation and solution of topology optimization in cases with maximum eigenfrequency. The proposed method is based on a combination of level set method and IGA technique, which uses the non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS), description of geometry, to perform analysis. The same NURBS is used for geometry representation, but also for IGA-based dynamic analysis and parameterization of the level set surface, that is, the level set function. The method is applied to topology optimization problems of maximizing the fundamental eigenfrequency for a given amount of material. A modal track method, that monitors a single target eigenmode is employed to prevent the exchange of eigenmode order number in eigenfrequency optimization. The validity and efficiency of the proposed method are illustrated by benchmark examples.

    Jikai LIU, Qian CHEN, Xuan LIANG, Albert C. TO
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 213-221.

    This paper presents a manufacturing cost constrained topology optimization algorithm considering the laser powder bed additive manufacturing process. Topology optimization for additive manufacturing was recently extensively studied, and many related topics have been addressed. However, metal additive manufacturing is an expensive process, and the high manufacturing cost severely hinders the widespread use of this technology. Therefore, the proposed algorithm in this research would provide an opportunity to balance the manufacturing cost while pursuing the superior structural performance through topology optimization. Technically, the additive manufacturing cost model for laser powder bed-based process is established in this paper and real data is collected to support this model. Then, this cost model is transformed into a level set function-based expression, which is integrated into the level set topology optimization problem as a constraint. Therefore, by properly developing the sensitivity result, the metallic additive manufacturing part can be optimized with strictly constrained manufacturing cost. Effectiveness of the proposed algorithm is proved by numerical design examples.

    Jiadong DENG, Claus B. W. PEDERSEN, Wei CHEN
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2019, 14(2): 129-140.

    The advances of manufacturing techniques, such as additive manufacturing, have provided unprecedented opportunities for producing multiscale structures with intricate latticed/cellular material microstructures to meet the increasing demands for parts with customized functionalities. However, there are still difficulties for the state-of-the-art multiscale topology optimization (TO) methods to achieve manufacturable multiscale designs with cellular materials, partially due to the disconnectivity issue when tiling material microstructures. This paper attempts to address the disconnectivity issue by extending component-based TO methodology to multiscale structural design. An effective linkage scheme to guarantee smooth transitions between neighboring material microstructures (unit cells) is devised and investigated. Associated with the advantages of components-based TO, the number of design variables is greatly reduced in multiscale TO design. Homogenization is employed to calculate the effective material properties of the porous materials and to correlate the macro/structural scale with the micro/material scale. Sensitivities of the objective function with respect to the geometrical parameters of each component in each material microstructure have been derived using the adjoint method. Numerical examples demonstrate that multiscale structures with well-connected material microstructures or graded/layered material microstructures are realized.

    Peng WEI, Wenwen WANG, Yang YANG, Michael Yu WANG
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2020, 15(3): 390-405.

    The level set method (LSM), which is transplanted from the computer graphics field, has been successfully introduced into the structural topology optimization field for about two decades, but it still has not been widely applied to practical engineering problems as density-based methods do. One of the reasons is that it acts as a boundary evolution algorithm, which is not as flexible as density-based methods at controlling topology changes. In this study, a level set band method is proposed to overcome this drawback in handling topology changes in the level set framework. This scheme is proposed to improve the continuity of objective and constraint functions by incorporating one parameter, namely, level set band, to seamlessly combine LSM and density-based method to utilize their advantages. The proposed method demonstrates a flexible topology change by applying a certain size of the level set band and can converge to a clear boundary representation methodology. The method is easy to implement for improving existing LSMs and does not require the introduction of penalization or filtering factors that are prone to numerical issues. Several 2D and 3D numerical examples of compliance minimization problems are studied to illustrate the effects of the proposed method.

    Liang XUE, Jie LIU, Guilin WEN, Hongxin WANG
    Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering, 2021, 16(1): 80-96.

    Topology optimization is a pioneer design method that can provide various candidates with high mechanical properties. However, high resolution is desired for optimum structures, but it normally leads to a computationally intractable puzzle, especially for the solid isotropic material with penalization (SIMP) method. In this study, an efficient, high-resolution topology optimization method is developed based on the super-resolution convolutional neural network (SRCNN) technique in the framework of SIMP. SRCNN involves four processes, namely, refinement, path extraction and representation, nonlinear mapping, and image reconstruction. High computational efficiency is achieved with a pooling strategy that can balance the number of finite element analyses and the output mesh in the optimization process. A combined treatment method that uses 2D SRCNN is built as another speed-up strategy to reduce the high computational cost and memory requirements for 3D topology optimization problems. Typical examples show that the high-resolution topology optimization method using SRCNN demonstrates excellent applicability and high efficiency when used for 2D and 3D problems with arbitrary boundary conditions, any design domain shape, and varied load.