This paper deals with identification of optimal fiber orientations and laminate thicknesses in maximum stiffness and minimum weight design of laminated composite beams. The structural response is evaluated using beam finite elements which correctly account for the influence of the fiber orientation and cross section geometry. The resulting finite element matrices are significantly smaller than those obtained using equivalent finite element models. This modeling approach is therefore an attractive alternative in computationally intensive applications at the conceptual design stage where the focus is on the global structural response. An optimization strategy is presented which aims at enabling the use of fiber angles as continuous design variables albeit the problems may have many local minima. A sequence of closely related problems with an increasing number of design variables is treated. The design found for a problem in the sequence is projected to generate the starting point for the next problem in the sequence. Numerical results are presented for cantilever beams with different geometries and load cases. The results indicate that the devised strategy is well suited for finding optimal fiber orientations and laminate thicknesses in the design of slender laminated composite structures.
- Compliance and weight optimization
- Laminated composites