Topology optimization of structures using meshless density variable approximants

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Journal Article
International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 2013, 93 (4), pp. 443 - 464
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This paper proposes a new structural topology optimization method using a dual-level point-wise density approximant and the meshless Galerkin weak-forms, totally based on a set of arbitrarily scattered field nodes to discretize the design domain. The moving least squares (MLS) method is used to construct shape functions with compactly supported weight functions, to achieve meshless approximations of system state equations. The MLS shape function with the zero-order consistency will degenerate to the well-known 'Shepard function', while the MLS shape function with the first-order consistency refers to the widely studied 'MLS shape function'. The Shepard function is then applied to construct a physically meaningful dual-level density approximant, because of its non-negative and range-restricted properties. First, in terms of the original set of nodal density variables, this study develops a nonlocal nodal density approximant with enhanced smoothness by incorporating the Shepard function into the problem formulation. The density at any node can be evaluated according to the density variables located inside the influence domain of the current node. Second, in the numerical implementation, we present a point-wise density interpolant via the Shepard function method. The density of any computational point is determined by the surrounding nodal densities within the influence domain of the concerned point. According to a set of generic design variables scattered at field nodes, an alternative solid isotropic material with penalization model is thus established through the proposed dual-level density approximant. The Lagrangian multiplier method is included to enforce the essential boundary conditions because of the lack of the Kronecker delta function property of MLS meshless shape functions. Two benchmark numerical examples are employed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method, in particular its applicability in eliminating numerical instabilities. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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