Design Optimization

In the aircraft industry, mass plays a critical role in deciding aircraft performance. The amount of lift required increases with the increase of mass, thereby increasing the drag and thrust on the aircraft. To overcome this, additional fuel would be needed, which would eventually increase the mass. Thus, it is important to account for structural mass in an aircraft and optimization is one such technique that can be used to obtain efficient results for aircraft structures.

Topology Optimization

Topology optimization has been widely used in the aircraft industry because of its ability to determine the optimized load path with efficient material distribution and mass reduction. The OptiStruct algorithm alters the material distribution to optimize the user-defined objective function under given constraints.

Figure 1. Helicopter Model: Topology Optimization Results

Figure 1 shows the results from the topology optimization of a helicopter performed in OptiStruct. In this case, the objective is to minimize mass, with weighted compliance as the constraint.

Failsafe Topology Optimization

Regular topology optimization runs may not account for the feasibility of design in situations where a section of the structure fails. Failsafe optimization divides the structure into damage zones (Figure 2) and generates multiple models (equal to the number of failure zones), wherein each model is the same as the original model without one failure zone. In this process, the failsafe topology optimization is applied by running topology optimization simultaneously for all such generated models and a final design output which is optimized to account for all generated models.

Figure 2. Failsafe Topology Optimization