This study investigates topology optimization of energy absorbing structures in which material damage is accounted for in the optimization process. The optimization objective is to design the lightest structures that are able to absorb the required mechanical energy. A structural continuity constraint check is introduced that is able to detect when no feasible load path remains in the finite element model, usually as a result of large scale fracture. This assures that designs do not fail when loaded under the conditions prescribed in the design requirements. This continuity constraint check is automated and requires no intervention from the analyst once the optimization process is initiated. Consequently, the optimization algorithm proceeds towards evolving an energy absorbing structure with the minimum structural mass that is not susceptible to global structural failure. A method is also introduced to determine when the optimization process should halt. The method identifies when the optimization method has plateaued and is no longer likely to provide improved designs if continued for further iterations. This provides the designer with a rational method to determine the necessary time to run the optimization and avoid wasting computational resources on unnecessary iterations. A case study is presented to demonstrate the use of this method.
- Energy absorption
- Topological optimization