[2022] Optimizing load locations and directions in structural design

Lee, T.U. and Xie, Y.M., 2022. Finite Elements in Analysis and Design, 209, p.103811. [Link]

Most structures around us carry loads. The performance of a structure usually depends on its geometry, material properties, support conditions, and load conditions. In the past decades, various optimization techniques have been developed to modify these ingredients to improve structural performance. However, existing optimization techniques are typically performed with predetermined load locations and directions.

In this study, we propose a new structural optimization framework by including load conditions as design variables, where candidate load locations and their direction ranges are specified based on the design requirements. In doing so, we can achieve far more efficient structural designs with the same amount of material that best meet user-defined objectives and constraints. Moreover, by extending the new approach to the simultaneous optimization of the load conditions, support locations, and structural topology, we can maximize the structural efficiency through an extremely high degree of design freedom.