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Deterministic versus reliability-based topology optimization of aeronautical structures

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Aircraft design is a challenging process which is constantly looking for developing new and lighter structural components. The application of topology optimization techniques is growing widespread in the aeronautical industry as it has proven to be highly useful for saving important weight amounts in recent aircraft designs. The objective of this research is to obtain optimal and novel aeronautical architectures through topology optimization while considering uncertainty in loads and material properties. For this, a methodology that combines the Sequential Optimization and Reliability Assessment (SORA) with external optimization software has been developed in order to perform Reliability-Based Topology Optimization (RBTO). The methodology is then compared against the classical way of obtaining novel architectures in aeronautical industry, which lie in the application of Deterministic Topology Optimization (DTO) considering partial safety factors in some data influencing the structural responses. The comparison draws weight savings of up to 3 % in the examples proposed when applying RBTO which could be highly significant in an aircraft structure. Moreover it has been proven that when performing a RBTO approach the layout of the final design can be different depending on the safety level required, which may influence the next phases of aircraft design process.

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The research leading to these results is part of the research project DPI2013-41893-R received from the Spanish Ministry of Economy. Further funding has been received from the Galician Government (including FEDER funding) with reference GRC2013-056 and from the program FPU (University teacher training program) from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.

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Correspondence to Carlos López.

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López, C., Baldomir, A. & Hernández, S. Deterministic versus reliability-based topology optimization of aeronautical structures. Struct Multidisc Optim 53, 907–921 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00158-015-1363-4

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  • Uncertainty
  • Topology optimization
  • Reliability
  • Aircraft design