Global blending optimization of laminated composites with discrete material candidate selection and thickness variation

Søren N. Sørensen, Mathias Stolpe

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A method capable of simultaneous topology and thickness optimization of laminated composites has previously been published by one of the authors. Mass constrained compliance minimization subject to certain manufacturing constraints was solved on basis of interpolation schemes with penalization. In order to obtain large patchwise material candidate continuity while also accommodating variable laminate thickness, a bi-linear stiffness parameterization was introduced, causing a non-convex problem. In this present work, we introduce an alternative problem formulation that holds identical capabilities but is, however, convex in the original mixed binary nested form. Convexity is the foremost important property of optimization problems, and the proposed method can guarantee the global or near-global optimal solution; unlike most topology optimization methods. The material selection is limited to a distinct choice among predefined numbers of candidates. The laminate thickness is variable but the number of plies must be integer. We solve the convex mixed binary non-linear programming problem by an outer approximation cutting-plane method augmented with a few heuristics to accelerate the convergence rate. The capabilities of the method and the effect of active versus inactive manufacturing constraints are demonstrated on several numerical examples of limited size, involving at most 320 binary variables. Most examples are solved to guaranteed global optimality and may constitute benchmark examples for popular topology optimization methods and heuristics based on solving sequences of non-convex problems. The results will among others demonstrate that the difficulty of the posed problem is highly dependent upon the composition of the constitutive properties of the material candidates.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStructural and Multidisciplinary Optimization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)137-155
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Discrete thickness variation
  • Global optimization
  • Laminated composites
  • Topology optimization
  • Blending
  • Laminating
  • Manufacture
  • Nonlinear programming
  • Numerical methods
  • Optimization
  • Shape optimization
  • Topology
  • Compliance minimization
  • Constitutive properties
  • Global optimal solutions
  • Manufacturing constraint
  • Nonlinear programming problem
  • Thickness optimization
  • Thickness variation
  • Topology Optimization Method


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