Topology Optimization of Linear Elastic Structures

  • Philip Browne

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Topology optimization is a tool for finding a domain in which material is placed that optimizes a certain objective function subject to constraints. This thesis considers topology optimization for structural mechanics problems, where the underlying PDE is derived from linear elasticity.There are two main approaches for solving topology optimization: Solid Isotropic Material with Penalisation (SIMP) and Evolutionary Structural Optimization (ESO). SIMP is a continuous relaxation of the problem solved using a mathematical programming technique and so inherits the convergence properties of the optimization method. By contrast, ESO is based on engineering heuristics and has no proof of optimality. This thesis considers the formulation of the SIMP method as a mathematical optimization problem. Including the linear elasticity state equations is considered and found to be substantially less reliable and less efficient than excluding them from the formulation and solving the state equations separately. The convergence of the SIMP method under a regularising filter is investigated and shown to impede convergence. A robust criterion to stop filtering is proposed and demonstrated to work well in high-resolution problems (O(10^6)).The ESO method is investigated to fully explain its non-monotonic convergence behaviour. Through a series of analytic examples, the steps taken by the ESO algorithm are shown to differ arbitrarily from a linear approximation. It is this difference between the linear approximation and the actual value taken which causes ESO to occasionally take non-descent steps. A mesh refinement technique has been introduced with the sole intention of reducing the ESO step size and thereby ensuring descent of the algorithm. This is shown to work on numerous examples. Extending the classical topology optimization problem to included a global buckling constraint is considered. This poses multiple computational challenges, including the introduction of numerically driven spurious localised buckling modes and ill-defined gradients in the case of non-simple eigenvalues. To counter such issues that arise in a continuous relaxation approach, a method for solving the problem that enforces the binary constraints is proposed. The method is designed specifically to reduce the number of derivative calculations made, which is by far the most computationally expensive step in optimization involving buckling. This method is tested on multiple problems and shown to work on problems of size O(10^5).
Date of Award22 May 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChris Budd (Supervisor) & Alicia Kim (Supervisor)

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