Efficient Inverse-designed Structural Infill for Complex Engineering Structures

Inverse design of high-resolution and fine-detailed 3D lightweight mechanical structures is notoriously expensive due to the need for vast computational resources and the use of very fine-scaled complex meshes. Furthermore, in designing for additive manufacturing, infill is often neglected as a component of the optimized structure. In this paper, both concerns are addressed using a de-homogenization topology optimization procedure on complex engineering structures discretized by 3D unstructured hexahedrals. Using a rectangular-hole microstructure (reminiscent to the stiffness optimal orthogonal rank-3 multi-scale) as a base material for the multi-scale optimization, a coarse-scale optimized geometry can be obtained using homogenization-based topology optimization. Due to the microstructure periodicity, this coarse-scale geometry can be up-sampled to a fine physical geometry with optimized infill, with minor loss in structural performance and at a fraction of the cost of a fine-scale solution. The upsampling on 3D unstructured grids is achieved through stream surface tracing which aligns with the optimized local orientation. The periodicity of the physical geometry can be tuned, such that the material serves as a structural component and also as an efficient infill for additive manufacturing designs. The method is demonstrated through three examples. It achieves comparable structural performance to state-of-the-art methods but stands out for its significant computational time reduction, much faster than the base-line method. By allowing multiple active layers, the mapped solution becomes more mechanically stable, leading to an increased critical buckling load factor without additional computational expense. The proposed approach achieves promising results, benchmarking against large-scale SIMP models demonstrates computational efficiency improvements of up to 250 times.


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