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Published April 23, 2012 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Design of Lightweight Structural Components for Direct Digital Manufacturing


The rapid growth in direct digital manufacturing technologies has opened the challenge of designing optimal micro-structures for high-performance components. Current topology optimization techniques do not work well for this type of problems and hence in this paper we propose a technique based on an implicit representation of the structural topology. The detailed microstructure is defined by a continuous variable, the size distribution field, defined over the design domain by chosen shape functions. We can optimize the structural topology by optimizing only the weights of the size distribution field and, for any given size distribution, we use standard meshing software to determine the actual detailed micro-structure. We have implemented the optimization loop using commercial CAD and FEA software, running under a genetic algorithm in MATLAB. Application this novel technique to the design of a sandwich beam has produced designs that are superior to any standard solid beam or even optimized truss structure.

Additional Information

© 2012 by Xin Ning and Sergio Pellegrino. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics with permission. We thank Ted Nye for inspiring this research and gratefully acknowledge the financial support received from Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

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