A level set method for shape and topology optimization of large-displacement compliant mechanisms

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Journal Article
International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 2008, 76 (6), pp. 862 - 892
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A parameterization level set method is presented for structural shape and topology optimization of compliant mechanisms involving large displacements. A level set model is established mathematically as the Hamilton-Jacobi equation to capture the motion of the free boundary of a continuum structure. The structural design boundary is thus described implicitly as the zero level set of a level set scalar function of higher dimension. The radial basis function with compact support is then applied to interpolate the level set function, leading to a relaxation and separation of the temporal and spatial discretizations related to the original partial differential equation. In doing so, the more difficult shape and topology optimization problem is now fully parameterized into a relatively easier size optimization of generalized expansion coefficients. As a result, the optimization is changed into a numerical process of implementing a series of motions of the implicit level set function via an existing efficient convex programming method. With the concept of the shape derivative, the geometrical non-linearity is included in the rigorous design sensitivity analysis to appropriately capture the large displacements of compliant mechanisms. Several numerical benchmark examples illustrate the effectiveness of the present level set method, in particular, its capability of generating new holes inside the material domain. The proposed method not only retains the favorable features of the implicit free boundary representation but also overcomes several unfavorable numerical considerations relevant to the explicit scheme, the reinitialization procedure, and the velocity extension algorithm in the conventional level set method. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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