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Lars U. Hansen

*

, Peter Horst

Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures (IFL), TU Braunschweig, Hermann-Blenk-Str. 35, 38108 Braunschweig, Germany

Received 21 December 2006; accepted 2 May 2007

Available online 22 June 2007

Abstract

Changes of the structural design are one of the essentials in the investigation and optimization of alternative and innovative aircraft

concepts. In this paper the choice of an appropriate design is seen as an optimization problem and solved by the application of a mul-

tilevel optimization procedure based on detailed Finite Element models of certain structural parts. The design is variable by its principle

layout, its material and its dimensions.

At the top level an Evolution Strategy drives the topology parameters. The second level of the optimization procedure is based on the

deterministic, gradient-based optimization method of MSC.Nastran

Ò

Sol200 that is used to optimize thicknesses and cross-sections of the

model with respect to diﬀerent design constraints. The model generation is based on Patran PCL-routines. A parallel evaluation is used

to increase calculation speed.

Two examples are presented in this context. The ﬁrst one shows advantages of the multilevel approach in simultaneous sizing and

topology optimization of a generic framework structure. The second example is an application to a structural design optimization of

a Blended Wing Body aircraft fuselage structure. This example shows the full scope of the method by consideration of metal and com-

posite designs in single, double and sandwich layout under multiple load and constraint conditions.

Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Multilevel optimization; Structural optimization; Evolution Strategy; Evolutionary algorithms; MSC.Nastran

Ò

Sol200; Blended Wing Body

(BWB); Aircraft

1. Introduction

The eﬃciency and environmental friendliness are of high

importance for future aircraft designs. In particular, the

structural weight has a large inﬂuence on the overall per-

formance of an aircraft which has in turn a major impact

on emissions and fuel consumption.

Especially in aircraft design studies of unconventional

conﬁgurations a weight estimation is extremely diﬃcult

but essential to rate a concept’s potential and quality (cp.

with work on ﬂying wings by [9]). The simplest weight esti-

mation methods often rely on empirical relations and are,

as a consequence, based on existing aircraft. An improve-

ment of such methods can be achieved by adding a physical

representation of the aircraft and its loads to the method,

either by creating relatively simple physics-based models

or by more detailed representations with global Finite Ele-

ment models, which again diﬀer in their ﬁdelity and quality

by the way loads are comprised (cp. with work presented in

[3,18,19], and especially [15]). In either case the deﬁnition

of principal properties of the structure relies on the know-

ledge related to the detailed layout of the structure. Often

this knowledge is obtained from prior aircraft generations

and their structural layouts.

In order to evaluate unconventional aircraft conﬁgura-

tions (Blended Wing Body, Oblique Flying Wing, etc.),

where it is likely that structural designs will be diﬀerent

from today’s standard, as investigated by Hansen et al.

[7,8] and O

¨

sterheld et al. [14], an optimization task should

be performed to ﬁnd a suitable and light structural layout,

respectively design, and to link its properties (e.g. stiﬀ-

nesses, speciﬁc weights) to the global weight prediction

modules.

0045-7949/$ - see front matter Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.compstruc.2007.05.021

*

Corresponding author. Tel.: +49 5313919919; fax: +49 5313919904.

E-mail address: L.Hansen@tu-bs.de (L.U. Hansen).

www.elsevier.com/locate/compstruc

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118

To cope with this situation an approach has been chosen

where loads and geometry data are extracted manually

from representative parts of a global Finite Element model

(cp. Fig. 1).

This information provides the basis for a detailed, para-

metric model that is capable of covering a large range of

possible structural designs (diﬀerent layouts, materials,

proportions, etc.). Many combinations of design parame-

ters can be found that fulﬁll its design requirements.

The need for an optimization approach is obvious and

due to the lack of information about the shape of the

design space an algorithm should be chosen that is capable

of ﬁnding global optima. An increase of eﬃciency is achiev-

able by separating this task into two optimization levels:

the ﬁrst level uses an Evolutionary Algorithm due to the

capability of ﬁnding global optima.

The second level has been realized by implementing a

deterministic optimization method, driven by gradient

information, which is readily provided by the Solution

200 of the commercial Finite Element Code MSC.Nas-

tran

Ò

(v2005). The set of design variables is divided into

a group of variables describing the principal concept layout

and a second group of variables that aﬀect the proportions

of the model. This partition leads to a topology design

optimization task performed by the Evolution Strategy

and a second level optimization task that determines an

ideal and feasible combination of thicknesses and cross-sec-

tions to fulﬁll design requirements and constraints. The

result of the second level is handed to the ﬁrst optimization

level through the deﬁnition of a ﬁtness function.

The choice of an Evolutionary Algorithms for the ﬁrst

optimization level is based on diﬀerent reasons: one advan-

tage of most Evolutionary Algorithms is their capability of

ﬁnding global optima in ragged design spaces and handling

many design variables without a signiﬁcant increase in

computation time. The advantage of dealing directly with

real valued design variables without encoding was decisive

for applying an Evolution Strategy. Furthermore the imple-

mentation of a lifespan into the optimization allows to

enforce somehow robust design solutions: slightly distorted

design variables need to create reproducible good results in

order to remain longer than a single lifespan in the popula-

tion. Consequently optimum solutions, that resulted only

from numerical eﬀects, will be removed without perma-

nently misleading the optimization.

This paper is structured as follows. In Sections 2 and 3

the optimization approach and the parametric models are

presented. Section 4 and 5 present diﬀerent applications

of the method. Section 4 places the emphasis on comparing

the multilevel with a single-level approach. In Section 5 the

multilevel approach is examined in application to a model

with high complexity and large changes in shape and topol-

ogy during design optimization. The evaluation ends with a

conclusion and summary in Section 6.

Nomenclature

r stress

s shear stress

q density

l population size

m Poisson’s ratio

j life span

k oﬀspring per generation

d

i

mapping function

g inequality constraint function

h equality constraint function

n number of design variables

n

h

/n

j

number equality/inequality constraints

n

s

number of strategy parameters

n

x

, n

y

force ﬂux in x-, y-direction

m mass

p pressure

w weighting factor

A cross-section area

C, D shape constants

E Young’s modulus

F

i

failure index

G shear modulus

F ﬁtness function

K stiﬀness matrix

u displacement vector

P load vector

X design variable vector

Ò

registered trademark

Indices

c compression

t tension

11, 22 principal direction 1, 2

vMises equivalent von Mises stress

allow allowable

Fig. 1. Global FEM model of a Blended Wing Body aircraft [8].

L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118 105

2. Optimization approach

The objective of the optimization task is to ﬁnd a struc-

ture that has a minimum weight while fulﬁlling other

design requirements and constraints. The scope of the

design space covers diﬀerent model topologies and topog-

raphies, each one composed of parts in diﬀerent dimensions

and materials.

Consequently, the representation of such structural lay-

outs requires:

• Design variables that describe the model topology and

topographie (e.g. number of stringers, existence of addi-

tional stiﬀeners, curvature radii).

• Design variables that inﬂuence the model proportions

and, by changing the stiﬀness distribution, the force ﬂow

in the structure (e.g. skin thicknesses, cross-section

areas, 2D-beam heights).

The challenge in this optimization task is the correlation

between some of the design variables. For instance, a simul-

taneous variation of design variables has a diﬀerent inﬂu-

ence than the separate variations and their superposition.

This dependency between variables is especially obvious

when it comes to variables that are more or less parameters

inﬂuencing the model layout: e.g. a parameter adding addi-

tional tension struts to the structure will change the force

ﬂow within the structure in such a signiﬁcant way, that gra-

dient information of preceding calculations will become

useless (the sensitivity of the objective and the constraint

functions will be completely diﬀerent). Consequently, all

methods purely relying on gradient information, like a

response surface method (RSM), might lead to a very inef-

ﬁcient or even diverging optimization process.

A diﬀerent approach has been taken by Raﬁq and Wil-

liams [16] by interfacing a trained neural network and a

Genetic Algorithm in order to increase the eﬃciency of

the optimization approach. Diﬀerent, representative points

in the search space are chosen for evaluation by Finite Ele-

ment analysis and used to train the neural network. All fur-

ther ﬁtness evaluations can then be based on the neural

network without the need of performing time consuming

Finite Element analyses. The avoidance of detailed analy-

ses is advantageous as long as the answers of the neural

network are reliable: strong interference of diﬀerent design

variables might be challenging for such an approach and

increase the number of relevant training cycles of the neu-

ral network.

This paper presents another eﬃcient way to solve the

structural optimization task by dividing the complete task

into two separate optimization problems: a sizing task

and a layout (or topology) task (see Fig. 2). This multilevel

optimization (or maybe better referred to as hybrid strat-

egy) has a separate set of design variables for each level.

This leads to a certain type of optimization strategy, where

the ﬁrst level optimizes the principle layout by creation of

multiple sub-tasks that are optimized by a second level.

This separation in two levels is, due to its treatment of

every structural layout as a separate sizing optimization

task, by some means comparable to the mechanisms of a

multi-population approach in an Evolutionary Algorithm.

The lower optimization level – the sizing task – can be

solved very eﬀectively by making use of gradient informa-

tion, that can be determined eﬃciently by calculating the

sensitivities of the system stiﬀness matrices. Such a process

is included in the optimizer of Nastran.

2.1. Evolution Strategy (level 1)

Evolution Strategies (ES) and Genetic Algorithms (GA)

belong to the group of Evolutionary Algorithms (EA) that

all have a common base – Darwin’s theory of evolution: a

group of solutions, each one deﬁned by their genes (geno-

type) and referred to as individuals, is put under selection

pressure and either reduced by the weakest or selected for

recombination by its ﬁttest. This idea of survival of the ﬁt-

test is simulated over multiple generations in order to

determine the best solution.

The simulation requires parameters that describe the

model and that characterize each individual. These param-

eters are coded in genes that describe each individuals

behavior. In the case of the GA these genes are represented

by binary encodings of the parameters and represent the

genotype. A mapping function translates the genotype to

the phenotype (e.g. real-value model parameters). In ES

the genotype is normally equal to the phenotype which

means that every real-valued parameter of the optimization

model can be, without mapping functions, part of the gen-

ome. In addition to the object variables each individual

possesses in ES additional strategy parameters, deﬁning

the standard deviations (variances) and rotation angles

(covariances). The object variables and the strategy param-

eters are changed by mutation and recombination and

hence are part of the optimization problem.

All EA possess certain and speciﬁc ways to recombine,

mutate and select individuals in order to simulate multiple

Fig. 2. Multilevel optimization task.

106 L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118

generations of evolution. Two major branches of Evolu-

tionary Algorithms were developed independently from

each other:

• The Evolution Strategies were established in 1964 ini-

tially to support experimental work on aerodynamic

panel models (cp. [20]). The strategy was used to inte-

grate each obtained result in a population and to ﬁnd

new, and better combinations of parameters for the suc-

ceeding experiments. The strategy was able do deal

(without encoding or mapping) directly with the param-

eters of the model. This ﬁrst approach showed the

potential of the strategy although it lacked details of

today’s ES. Many improvements to the method were

contributed by Schwefel [21].

• The Genetic Algorithms were introduced in the 1970s by

Holland (see [6]). Their binary encoding is an abstract

representation of the real-valued parameters. The choice

of an adequate encoding strategy is an additional chal-

lenge and might contribute to the methods performance.

Due to the various diﬀerences in the EA, this paper deals

only with one implementation of an ES with a l, j, k strat-

egy where the parameters l denote the size of the parent

population, k the number of oﬀspring and j the lifespan

of an individual. This representation includes the following

selection mechanisms (comprehensive overviews are given

in [2,22]):

• The l + k – ES selects out of the oﬀspring and parent

population. This elitist selection allows parents to survive

until they are superseded by better performing oﬀspring.

In this case it might be possible that well performing

individuals survive forever.

• The l, k – ES selects only out of the oﬀspring population.

The so called non-elitist strategy replaces in every gener-

ation all parents by their oﬀspring.

• The l, j, k – ES includes both mechanisms by introduc-

ing the lifespan as an additional parameter. With a life-

span of j = 1 the method is equal to the l, k-strategy

and for j = 1 it equals the l + k-strategy. Intermediate

strategies are possible for 1 < j < 1.

The selection mechanisms diﬀer in the selection pressure

exerted on the population. Depending on the problem type,

diﬀerent arguments for the choice of an adequate life span

can be given:

• j = 1: Ref. [1] describes the l, k – ES as the state-of-the-

art approach since this mechanism does not necessarily

require to keep the best individual, which means that

the selection is non-elitist. Temporarily deteriorations

become possible that might be necessary to leave the

local optimum to search for a region of similar or higher

attraction.

• j = 1: If the feasibility, the objective function or the

object variables are subject to noise an elitist selection

strategy can get stuck at an outlier. The survival of an

outlier over all generations reduces the possibilities to

explore regions of higher attraction. This is especially

a problem in experimental settings (cp. [17]). On the

other hand, the elitist selection of the l + k – ES is

advantageous for individuals with small numbers in

their strategy parameters (e.g. small variances), due to

their reduced capability to introduce large distortions

to the objective variables.

In the examples of this investigation the individual’s ﬁt-

ness is always based on results obtained by the FEM. In

order to avoid improvements due to numerical eﬀects, it

was decided to treat the results like an experimental result

where outliers and noise have to be expected. Therefore a

non-elitist l, j, k – ES with j = 5 has been chosen as an

adequate approach for the structural problems presented

in this context.

The principal operations of an ES are, as shown in

Fig. 3, performed in multiple steps:

(1) deﬁnition and creation of an initial population with l

individuals;

(2) creation of k oﬀspring;

• random selection of parents out of an initial

population,

• recombination and mutation to create a new indi-

vidual (oﬀspring),

• evaluation of individual’s ﬁtness (e.g. FEM based

structural analysis, experiment),

• integration of individual in population,

(3) reduction of the population size by age (life span j);

(4) selection of the l ﬁttest individuals;

(5) convergence check (either restart in step (ii) or

ﬁnished).

κ

λ

µ κ λ

µ)

λ

o

µ,λ µ+λ)

a

o

o

o

n

Fig. 3. General setup of an Evolution Strategy.

L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118 107

In order to give a short introduction to the Evolution

Strategy, the principal elements and operators of the ES

are explained in brief.

2.1.1. Oﬀspring population

The oﬀspring population is created by recombination

and mutation. The number of individuals in the oﬀspring

population is k. Each oﬀspring is characterized by its gen-

ome, age and ﬁtness.

2.1.2. Parent population

The parent population is formed by the best l individu-

als out of the total number of oﬀspring and the previous

parent population (depending on the chosen selection

mechanism).

2.1.3. Convergence check

The convergence check is performed by either evaluating

the improvement of the ﬁtness or by evaluating the changes

in the design variables.

2.1.4. Recombination operator

The genetic information of two (or more) parent indi-

viduals is used to produce one oﬀspring by recombination

(the successor is hence called recombinant). The recombina-

tion (in GA as well referred to as crossover) can be either of

discrete (a dominant recombination, where each variable is

selected randomly from either parent) or intermediate type

(a recombination, where the variables are created by the

arithmetic mean of the parents’ variables). Another princi-

pal distinction can be made between global or local recom-

bination: the local recombination performs a choice of

parameters after the parents have been chosen while the

global recombination chooses parents for every gene sepa-

rately. In addition, several other recombination operators

exist (for details see [21]). In the following only local

recombination will be considered.

2.1.5. Mutation operator

The mutation operator adds distortion to the individ-

ual’s design variables. The amount of distortion, the muta-

tion strength, is chosen randomly with a probability given

by a Gaussian distribution. The standard deviation of the

normal distribution and correlation information are saved

separately in so-called strategy parameters. The correlation

between the variables is saved in the form of correlation

angles. The total number of strategy parameters n

s

for n

design variables is

n

s

¼ n

variance

þ n

covariance

ð1Þ

with

n

variance

¼ n ð2Þ

n

covariance

¼

nðn À 1Þ

2

: ð3Þ

2.1.6. Selection operator

The selection pressure can be applied in multiple phases

of the process. The ES normally selects in each generation

l individuals by their ﬁtness. In addition to the selection by

ﬁtness, a life span enables to change between diﬀerent strat-

egies (see above the description of the l, j, k strategy).

2.1.7. Fitness function

The ﬁtness of an individual is the measure for its quality.

Depending on the optimization setup, the ﬁtness function

can contain the objective and the responses of the system.

Diﬀerent penalization approaches exist which include an

appropriate design constraint balance between intermedi-

ate violations and the selection pressure relief.

2.2. Gradient-based sizing (level 2)

The second level of the optimization task is performed

by MSC.Nastran Sol200. The optimization approach

implemented in Nastran Sol200 is based on gradient infor-

mation, that is obtained via an internal approximation of

the structural responses. The optimization problem is

deﬁned by the search for optimal design variables X that

minimize the design objective function F(X)

min F ðXÞ ð4Þ

subject to n

g

inequality and n

h

equality constraints

g

j

ðXÞ 6 0 j ¼ 1; . . . ; n

g

n

g

inequality constraints ð5Þ

h

k

ðXÞ ¼ 0 k ¼ 1; . . . ; n

h

n

h

equality constraints ð6Þ

and n

si

side constraints

x

lower

i

6 x

i

6 x

upper

i

i ¼ 1; . . . ; n

s

ð7Þ

where the design variables x

i

are deﬁned by X

X ¼ fx

1

; x

2

; . . . ; x

n

g: ð8Þ

The optimizer implementation in Nastran, as described in

[12], is based on the DOT optimization algorithms from

Vanderplaats Research & Development, Inc. The complete

optimization process is performed in multiple steps:

(1) Starting with an initial design a Finite Element Anal-

ysis (FEA) of the model is performed and all

requested design responses are calculated (e.g. mass,

displacements, strains, stresses).

(2) Constraint screening is performed in order to distin-

guish between active and inactive constraints. A

two stage process ﬁrst sorts out all inactive con-

straints by applying a threshold level to the normal-

ized constraints. The second stage tries to localize

violated regions within the model in order to sort

out local exceedings. The reduction of the number

of constraints enhances the performance of the sensi-

tivity analysis.

(3) Sensitivities are the rate of change of the responses

with respect to changes of chosen variables or param-

eters. Nastran Sol200 includes a design sensitivity

108 L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118

analysis that evaluates sensitivities for all retained

responses, regardless of the future response use (e.g.

as a design objective or design constraint). Diﬀerent

approaches are available to calculate sensitivities for

static and dynamic responses.

(4) Based on the sensitivity information an approximate

model is created that provides information for the

optimizer.

(5) The optimizer performs the numerical optimization

task and determines the search direction and the step

size. Diﬀerent algorithms, modiﬁed method of feasible

directions (MMFD), sequential linear programming

(SLP), sequential quadratic programming (SQP),

are available but their detailed description goes

beyond the scope of this description. In the following

the MMFD is used as the default method.

(6) Convergence is checked based on multiple criteria.

The optimizer is able to distinguish between diﬀerent

types of convergence: unachieved convergence (e.g.

due to a limitation on the number of design cycles),

non-achievable convergence (impossible design), soft

convergence (no signiﬁcant change in the variables

or properties of two consecutive approximations) or

hard convergence (convergence in the objective func-

tion calculated by exact analyses).

Especially the performance of the approximation can be

crucial for the design optimization. The basic idea behind

Nastran’s implementation is the approximation of the

response by an approximation with Taylor series. The gradi-

ents required to build the series are determined in most cases

by (central or) forward ﬁnite diﬀerences without the need to

invert the stiﬀness matrix more than once during each design

iteration: Writing the general form of the system equations

Ku ¼ P ð9Þ

the derivative of Eq. (9) with respect to design variables X

gives

K

ou

ox

i

¼

oP

ox

i

À

oK

ox

i

u: ð10Þ

Eq. (10) shows, that the rate of change of the displacements

u with respect to changes of the ith design variable x

i

can be

calculated by solving only the right-hand side. The stiﬀness

matrix K is already available in decomposed form as a re-

sult of the usual inversion of the system equation (Eq. (9))

and hence can be reused. This requires only the calculation

of the right-hand side derivatives (also known as pseudo-

loads). In many cases the load vector P is invariant with re-

spect to the design variables (e.g. material properties,

dimensions – if structural inertia loads are neglected)

oP

ox

i

¼ 0: ð11Þ

In this case the right-hand side is simpliﬁed and only the

sensitivity of the stiﬀness matrix

oK

ox

i

u 6¼ 0 ð12Þ

remains unknown. The left-hand side of Eq. (12) can be

approximated with a ﬁnite diﬀerence approach.

3. Simulation model

3.1. Parametric model

The simulation models presented in this paper are based

on Finite Element models. These models are created with

the commercial pre- and postprocessor MSC.Patran

Ò

by

a routine written in PCL (Patran Command Language).

The user can access the routine via a graphical user inter-

face (GUI) or via command line and ASCII-ﬁles.

To increase the model generation speed, Patran has been

run in command line mode (batch mode). In this case the

parameters are provided by an ASCII-ﬁle input; sup-

pressed graphics processing also increases the model gener-

ation speed.

3.2. FE-model

The Finite Element models are created in Patran and

translated to MSC.Nastran

Ò

format. In this case the inter-

nal optimizer of Nastran provides an eﬃcient way to imple-

ment a gradient-driven optimization in the multilevel

approach (Sol200). Depending on the optimization task

diﬀerent Nastran solution sequences (e.g. linear static

(Sol101), linear buckling (Sol105), etc.) are chosen.

3.3. Evolution Strategy: EStruct

The Evolution Strategy used for this investigation is an

in-house tool called EStruct fully written in Python and

based on methods proposed by Schwefel [21]. The program

makes use of the object orientated features of Python by

handling each oﬀspring as a separate object of a common

class. This basic idea leads to a transparent code that is

easy to adapt. The current version features possibilities to

restart from an earlier run, to distribute the jobs on multi-

ple machines (nodes) and to calculate the ﬁtnesses exter-

nally (e.g. Nastran). The main procedure is described in

the following pseudo-code:

> start process via MPI-Python on multiple

machines (e.g. cluster)

> chose master node to steer the job

> put slave nodes to waiting condition

> master node: restart or initialize individuals

of the ﬁrst generation

> do while generation < max. generations

> do while (individuals in generation) < k

> initialize individual: birth date (integer),

parameter names (string array), parameter types

(integer array), parameter values (real array),

deviation values (real array), correlation angles

(real array)

L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118 109

> master node: distribute individuals via

MPI-Python to slave nodes

> slave nodes: receive individuals and

start calculation of their ﬁtness (e.g.

Finite Element Analysis)

> slave nodes: return of individuals status (fail-

ure/success) and fitness to master node

> slave nodes: wait for new job

<end do

> master node: integrate all k new individuals in

population

> master node: perform selection (l, j, k)

> master node: create individuals for the next

generation by choosing parents, recombination and

mutation

< end do

4. Optimization example 1: generic framework structure

4.1. Analysis model and optimization setup

This section introduces the analysis models for the

design test case of a framework optimization. The struc-

tural model is chosen for explanation and veriﬁcation pur-

poses due to its simplicity (low number of elements, simple

loading condition).

Two diﬀerent approaches to optimize the location of the

nodes and the cross-sections of the framework structure

will be shown. The goal of the optimization is – in both

cases – the lightest structure. As a design constraint the

members of the framework are not allowed to exceed a

maximum stress level of 100 MPa in compression or ten-

sion (r

i

6 j100 MPaj for i = 1, 2, . . ., n

elements

).

In the following, the ﬁrst optimization approach is

called ‘‘case A: ES+Sol200’’. It is based on the two level

strategy, as described before, that uses at bottom level Nas-

tran’s sizing capabilities (gradient-based method) and at

the top level the Evolution Strategy EStruct.

The second approach, herein after referred to as ‘‘case

B: ES’’, which is similar to work presented by Gieger

and Ermanni [6], uses only an Evolution Strategy (EStruct)

in a single optimization level. Again, the goal is a suitable

combination of parameters that meet the design require-

ments and improve the design.

4.2. Parameterization and design variables

The Finite Element model of the framework (cp. Fig. 4)

consists of 13 nodes and 22 struts. Displacement boundary

conditions are applied to the two nodes on the left and a

vertical force acts on the right end of the framework.

Each nodal position is deﬁned by two design variables

that are related to the two coordinates (x, y). The nodes

related to boundary conditions and all nodes on the lower

side of the framework are not subject to changes and

remain unchanged during optimization. Hence only the ﬁve

positions of the upper nodes (as shown in Fig. 4) are

included in the parametric model and deﬁned by the design

variables 1–10.

Each strut of the model is idealized by a Nastran

CROD-Element and characterized by a stiﬀness related

to the area of its cross-section. In order to meet the design

constraints the cross-section areas are deﬁned as design

variables and subject to change during the optimization.

Depending on the chosen approach the design variables,

constraints and the ﬁtness function are diﬀerent. Details

are given in Table 1, Sections 4.3 and 4.4.

For comparability purposes the model generation is,

despite the simplicity of the model, performed with Patran

in batch mode. In order to use Nastran’s internal optimiza-

tion sequence Sol200, additional job parameters have been

deﬁned: they include the design responses, the design objec-

tive and the design constraints. The 32 design variables x

i

are summarized by X

X ¼ fx

1

; x

2

; . . . ; x

5

; y

1

; y

2

; . . . ; y

5

; A

1

; A

2

; . . . ; A

22

g

with

x

i

x-coordinate of node i,

y

i

y-coordinate of node i,

A

j

cross-section area of strut j.

Fig. 4. Framework optimization test case.

Table 1

Diﬀerences in design variable deﬁnition depending on optimization approach

Approach Design variables Fitness function Design constraints

Case A: ES+Sol200 10 (ES) + 22 (Sol200) d(m) Fulﬁlled by Sol200

Case B: ES 32 (ES)

d(m) + d

i

(r) Incl. in ﬁtness function

110 L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118

4.3. Design constraints

The task of the design is to minimize the weight subject

to n

g

inequality constraints (g = 1, 2, . . ., 22 struts)

g

j

ðXÞ 6 0 ð13Þ

with

g

j

ðXÞ ¼

F

j

A

j

¸

¸

¸

¸

¸

¸

¸

¸

À100 MPa ¼ jr

j

j À100 MPa 6 0

for j = 1, . . ., n

struts

with n

struts

= 22.

The (axial) stress in each strut results from tension or

compression. For demonstration purposes the same stress

level has been set for tension and compression.

4.3.1. Case A: ES+Sol200

The gradient-based optimization, included in the

approach of ‘‘case A: ES+Sol200’’, accounts for the stress

constraints by introducing Nastran DRESP1 and DCONSTR

cards in the Sol200 bulk deck. Internally theses constraints

become part of the objective (Lagrange) function and con-

sequently of the sensitivity approximation process.

1

4.3.2. Case B: ES

In the optimization setup of ‘‘case B: ES’’ the stress con-

straints have been included in the ﬁtness function by the

use of mapping relations (as shown by Gieger and Ermanni

[6] and Ko¨ nig [11]). They allow to include all design

responses in a common ﬁtness function. This leads to a

slightly diﬀerent optimization objective where the ﬁtness

is not only deﬁned by the mass but also by the confor-

mance with design constraints. Consequently, the optimi-

zation aims on minimizing the function f(X)

f ðXÞ ¼

n

i¼1

w

i

Á d

i

þ dðmassÞ ð14Þ

with w

i

being weighting factors (here set to 1) and d repre-

senting the results of diﬀerent design responses. These re-

sponses are translated by mapping functions in a way

that a value of zero corresponds to the desired condition.

Unwanted conditions (e.g. stress violations, excessive

weight, large displacements) create a response of d

i

> 0.

The mapping functions are normally deﬁned in the range

of 0 6 d

i

6 1 to avoid unequal treatment or unwanted

weighting of the diﬀerent responses.

Mapping functions, presented in [6], have been adapted

to the given problem as follows.

4.3.2.1. Mass response mapping function. The mass map-

ping function links the structural mass to an artiﬁcial ﬁt-

ness value that is attractively low for desired mass range

(m

d

) and increases exponentially for masses higher than

the upper, initial mass (m

i

).

dðmassÞ ¼ ða Á mass þ bÞ

a

ð15Þ

The factors a, b are calculated prior to the optimization by

using an estimated desired (m

d

) and undesired (m

u

) mass to

create answers of the mapping function of zero and one.

The exponent a has been set to a = 5 (cp. [6]).

A function has been chosen that penalizes masses above

a maximum level exponentially by translating the mass

response in ﬁtness values >1. In this case the ﬁtness result-

ing from the mass response is very likely exceeding all other

addends to the overall ﬁtness (see Eq. (14)). Consequently

the mass is desired to have a large impact on the quality of

the design.

4.3.2.2. Stress response mapping function. The stress

response is translated by a diﬀerentiable step function to

a ﬁtness response d. The following relations have been

used:

d

i

ðrÞ ¼ 1 þe

ÀkÁ

r

r

allow

ÀD

_ _

_ _À1

ð16Þ

for i = 1, . . ., n

struts

with n

struts

= 22 and

k ¼

1

C

feas

ln

1

D

limit

À 1

_ _

À ln

1

D

feas

À 1

_ _ _ _

ð17Þ

and

D ¼

1

k

ln

1

D

limit

À 1

_ _

þ1: ð18Þ

The shape of the stepping function is inﬂuenced by shape

constants D

feas

, C

feas

, C

limit

and D

limit

. These values have

been set to D

feas

= 0.5, C

feas

= 0.1, C

limit

= 1.0 and D

limit

=

0.01 (cp. [6]).

The stress response mapping function creates ﬁtness val-

ues in the range between 0 6 d

i

6 1. The penalization of the

structure is thus limited to two prescriptive limits: fulﬁll-

ment or violation of the constraint. Since all members of

the structure contribute to the overall ﬁtness the inﬂuence

of every member is bounded by the deﬁnition of the map-

ping relation.

4.4. Design objective/ﬁtness

The objective of the design is to minimize the weight of

the structure. Due to the diﬀerent approaches the objective

is treated diﬀerently. The multilevel optimization with Nas-

tran Sol200 fulﬁlls the design constraints implicitly in the

second level so that the ﬁtness value of the each individual

is only deﬁned by its mass.

4.5. Results

The results of the diﬀerent approaches are presented in

Table 2. Both approaches have been used to run an

1

This design constraint proved to be challenging: the gradient driven

optimizer tries to fully utilize both allowable stress levels (in tension and in

compression). Hence gradients might be calculated that point in opposite

directions. The proper adaption of parameters inﬂuencing Nastran’s

constraint screening capabilities was necessary to create a feasible

optimization problem.

L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118 111

estimated number of 150,000 Finite Element Analyses

(FEA). Both methods are able to create results that meet

the design constraints. But the multilevel approach leads

to a much lower ﬁnal weight (ﬁnal framework shown in

Fig. 5).

In order to understand this diﬀerence in performance the

convergence behavior is depicted in Figs. 6 and 7. Both dia-

grams show the ﬁtness value vs. the number of function

evaluations (FEA). The multilevel approach shows from

the beginning a much better capability to ﬁnd a suitable

combination of parameters and hence a lower structural

weight.

The reason is given by the diﬀerent sizing behavior of

the diﬀerent approaches: keeping in mind that the ﬁrst 10

design variables change the topology of the structure one

can imagine, that an ideal combination of the nodal coor-

dinates will not necessarily lead to an overall low ﬁtness if

the design variables 11–32 (cross-section areas) are improp-

erly chosen. The multilevel approach has a principle advan-

tage over the single-level Evolutionary Strategy since the

lower level (Sol200) is able to determine the ideal combina-

tion of cross-section variables. The ﬁtness value that is

passed back to the ﬁrst level optimizer (ES) clearly rates

the quality of the nodal positions. Even after performing

over 1500 generations with 100 oﬀspring per generation

no signiﬁcant improvement of the ﬁnal result of ‘‘case B:

ES’’ was achieved. Although changes to the optimization

parameters might help to improve this performance it

becomes obvious that the multilevel approach of ‘‘case A:

ES+Sol200’’ has signiﬁcant advantages over the single-

level approach of ‘‘case B: ES’’.

The multilevel approach requires a much lower number

of generations for the convergence to be achieved. For fur-

ther investigations a number of 25 generations each with

100 oﬀspring has been chosen.

5. Optimization example 2: BWB fuselage structure

5.1. Analysis model

The investigation of diﬀerent model parameters requires

a common ﬁtness indicator in order to rate diﬀerent con-

cepts. The following investigation uses the structural mass,

resulting from the structures density multiplied by its vol-

ume, directly as a ﬁtness value. Taking into account

the results from the ﬁrst investigated example of the

Table 2

Diﬀerences in design results depending on optimization approach

Approach Max. stress

(MPa)

Final

mass (kg)

Exact FEM analyses

ES 100 94.5 kg 1500 gen · 100 oﬀspring

(=150,000 FEA)

ES+Sol200 100 62.5 kg 75 gen · 100 oﬀspring · SOL200

(150,000 FEA)

Fig. 5. (Top) Final design after sizing task with ﬁxed nodal positions;

(bottom) ﬁnal framework design after approach of ‘‘case A: ES+Sol200’’.

Fig. 6. Convergence behavior: Evolution Strategy (model topology

optimization)+Nastran Sol200 (sizing optimization).

Fig. 7. Convergence behavior: Evolution Strategy (model topology and

sizing optimization).

112 L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118

framework optimization case, a two level strategy is cho-

sen: the investigation of diﬀerent model parameters is han-

dled by an Evolution Strategy. The ﬁtness of each of these

models is determined by sizing with the optimizer of Nas-

tran Sol200. This procedure enables a fast convergence

(cp. Fig. 7).

The investigated models represent a typical part of the

fuselage structure of a Blended Wing Body aircraft, which

oﬀers a variety of general solutions, but is not yet solved.

The fuselage body, as shown in Fig. 8, encloses a wide

cabin that is partitioned by vertical walls reaching from

the lower shell to the upper shell of the fuselage. In order

to be able to operate in high altitudes, pressurization of

the cabin is necessary. The pressurization of the ﬂat cabin

creates an unfavorable loading condition that is dominated

by large bending loads in the upper and lower skin of the

fuselage and large non-linear eﬀects, if no special measures

are taken. The advantages of a BWB aircraft strongly rely

on the fuselage weight. In order to rate detailed structural

designs and to create speciﬁc weights (as well for further

investigations of such aircraft) here only two dominant,

pressurization load cases are used for demonstration pur-

poses of the method.

The analysis models represent a pressurized structure of

the fuselage upper shell. By limitation to symmetric mod-

els, a reduction of calculation time (investigation of half-

models) is possible. These models are created with a PCL

routine and consist of 10,000–15,000 elements, depending

on the model topology (single skin, double skin, sandwich,

etc.). A single skin design for multiple bays is depicted in

Fig. 9. Only the part marked with dashed lines, the half-

model of the structure, is considered during optimization.

Symmetry conditions are applied to the edge in the symme-

try plane. The major components of the model are labeled.

Models of a double skin or a sandwich are similar and only

diﬀer in the presence of an inner skin, which is stiﬀened by

stringers and attached to the inner frame ﬂanges. The sand-

wich structure has in addition solid elements between inner

and outer skin (core height: four solid elements) while

stringers on the inner or outer skin are omitted for this

case.

Two diﬀerent load cases will be considered for this opti-

mization task. Based on FAR $25.365 [5] a fatigue load

case, with recurring loads at limit load level, and a failure

case at ultimate load level have been chosen. The limit load

case assumes a loading condition with a normal, opera-

tional cabin pressurization of 1Dp. The failure case is based

on $25.365(d) with

1:5 Á Dp

limit load

Á 1:33 2Dp: ð19Þ

The calculation of the pressure diﬀerential

2

results from the

cabin pressurization and from the dynamic pressure of

aerodynamic loads.

During operational ﬂight conditions the cabin static

atmospheric pressure (cabin altitude a

cabin

= 2.5 km) is

equal to

p

cabin

¼ 746:83 mbar:

At the maximum operating altitude (a

max

= 13 km) of the

aircraft the static atmospheric pressure equals

p

atmos

¼ 165:10 mbar:

Considering an additional pressure reduction of

p

aero

¼ 50:00 mbar

due to the lift acting on the upper surface of the aircraft,

the static pressure on the outside is reduced to

p

static

¼ p

atmos

À p

aero

p

static

¼ 165:10 mbar À 50 mbar ¼ 115:20 mbar:

The resulting diﬀerential pressure on the pressurized skins

of a single or double skin concept is diﬀerent due to the

assumption of the pressure condition between the two

skins:

The loading condition of a single skin concept results

from the diﬀerence between inside and outside pressure

Fig. 8. Location of an exemplary upper shell structure in a global BWB

model.

Fig. 9. Finite Element model topology.

2

All pressure values are taken from tables of the Standard Atmosphere

[4].

L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118 113

Dp ¼ p

cabin

À p

static

ð20Þ

Dp ¼ 746:83 mbar À 115:20 mbar 632 mbar:

The loading condition of a double skin concept can be cal-

culated assuming a static atmospheric pressure between in-

ner and outer skin

Dp

inner skin 1

¼ p

cabin

À p

atmos

582 mbar

Dp

outer skin 1

¼ p

atmos

À p

static

50 mbar

Dp

sum

¼ Dp

inner skin

þDp

outer skin

¼ 632 mbar:

ð21Þ

Due to the non-circular shape of the fuselage, additional

forces are applied to edges of the model. These loads have

been extracted for one panel location in the fuselage from a

global ﬁnite-element model (load case: 1Dp).

In longitudinal direction a load of n

x

= 222 N/mm and

in circumferential direction of n

y

= 192 N/mm have been

applied.

For the 2Dp case (ultimate load case) the loads of the

1Dp case are scaled.

The parametric model allows as well to change the mate-

rial models and material parameters for the pressurized

skins. Two diﬀerent, linear elastic materials are chosen

for this investigation: isotropic, homogeneous material

(Aluminum, e.g. 2524 T3) and alternatively anisotropic,

layered composite material (CFRP). Both materials can

be combined with an optional honeycomb core material

(cp. Table 6). The material properties and sizing allowables

are summarized in Tables 3 and 4. In order to obtain a

symmetric laminate and to keep the number of design vari-

ables low, the laminate is deﬁned with a constant stacking

sequence and layer orientation. Due to symmetry, only the

layers’ thicknesses on one side of the midplane are variable

(cp. Table 5).

5.2. Design variables

The design variables of the model can be subdivided into

a group of parameters inﬂuencing the model topology

(Table 7) and sizing variables that aﬀect the model dimen-

sions (Table 8). The total number of design variables is

dependent on the chosen model topology and material.

The herein before mentioned multilevel optimization

approach is based on the repartition of topology and sizing

variables (cp. Tables 7 and 8). Consequently, the topology

variables are handled by the Evolution Strategy and the siz-

ing variables by the gradient based optimization of Nastran

Sol200.

Unlike the ﬁrst example the design variables of this

second example do not directly inﬂuence any nodal

coordinates. Instead variables are deﬁned that change the

parametric design at certain control points (e.g. frame

height, skin curvature, Table 7). Ragged surfaces are con-

sequently already avoided by the deﬁnition of the paramet-

ric model without a need for further penalization of

geometrically unpractical or unwanted solutions.

5.3. Design constraints

The design variables are constrained by side-constraints

given in Tables 7 and 8 (the range is marked in columns

with ‘‘min’’ and ‘‘max’’). These side-constraints are inde-

pendent of the load case.

Buckling is prevented by additional design constraints

on the lowest Eigenvalues. This constraint enforces ﬁrst

buckling above the corresponding load level. The buckling

constraint is only active for the limit load case.

Additional design constraints are used for the sizing of

the structure. The sizing of the structure distinguishes

between fatigue (recurring pressurization at limit load)

and ultimate (maximum pressure) load: as a consequence

the allowable stress level for all metal parts is diﬀerent

for the fatigue case and for the ultimate case (cp. Table 9).

Fiber reinforced material oﬀers in many cases a good

fatigue behavior which permits a diﬀerent design approach

for CFRP parts of the structure. Hence only the ultimate

load case is used for the sizing with the Tsai-Hill failure cri-

terion. It is applied as a design constraint which takes the

residual strengths of each layer and the multi-axial stress

condition into consideration. The limit load case is again

used for design constraints on the critical buckling load.

Table 4

Unidirectional carbon ﬁber prepreg material: anisotropic material properties and strengths

E

11

(GPa) E

22

(GPa) m

12

G

12

(GPa) G

23

(GPa) G

13

(GPa) q (kg/m

3

)

192 10.6 0.31 6.1 6.1 3.7 1.8eÀ6

r

t11

(MPa) r

t22

(MPa) r

c11

(MPa) r

c22

(MPa) s

allow

(MPa)

2715 56 1400 250 101

Table 5

Stacking sequence of generic CFRP material

Layer no. Orient. angle (°) Initial thickness (mm) Design variable

1 0 0.125 t

layer1

2 +45 0.125 t

layer2

3 À45 0.125 t

layer3

4 90 0.125 t

layer4

5–8 Symmetry

Table 3

Aluminum material: isotropic material properties and allowable fatigue

and residual stresses

E (GPa) m

12

q (kg/m

3

) r

vMises,fatigue

(MPa) r

vMises,fracture

(MPa)

72 0.3 2.8eÀ6 110 >270

114 L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118

The deﬁnition of the failure index is deﬁned in Eq. (22).

The calculation of the index is performed for each element

separately. Sensitivities with respect to the failure index are

being calculated internally in Nastran Sol200 and become

part of the objective function (cp. [13]). The material allow-

ables applied for the example are given in Table 4.

1

r

t11

À

1

r

c11

_ _

r

1

þ

1

r

t22

À

1

r

c22

_ _

r

2

þ

r

2

1

r

t11

r

c11

þ

r

2

2

r

t22

r

c22

þ

s

2

12

s

2

allow

¼F

i

ð22Þ

The existence of constraints based on element stresses and

on Eigenvalues requires diﬀerent analyses. Within Sol200 a

linear static analysis (Sol101) and a buckling analysis

(Sol105) is performed.

5.4. Design objective/ﬁtness

The objective of the optimization is minimum weight.

Design constraints and side constraints (cp. Section 5.3)

have to be fulﬁlled.

5.5. Results

The Evolutionary l, j, k-Strategy EStruct has been used

with the settings l = 15 (population size), j = 5 (life span)

and k = 100 (oﬀspring per generation). The optimization

was stopped after 25 generations: In total 25 · 100 =

2500 individuals have been modeled and analyzed in the

ﬁrst level of the optimization. In the second level each of

theses models was sized and optimized in multiple Sol200

Table 6

Sandwich core: material properties (similar to Aramid Fibre Honeycomb HexWeb

Ò

HRH-10-1/4-3.1, [10])

E

11

(MPa) E

22

(MPa) E

33

(MPa) G

12

(MPa) G

23

(MPa) G

31

(MPa) m

12

q (kg/m

3

)

1.0 1.0 145.0 44.8 20.7 1.0 0.4 4.96eÀ10

Table 7

Design variables: topology variables

Topology variable Type Min–max Number of design variables

Inner skin Curvature r 0 mm–1 1

Frame Height h 0 mm–1 1

Inner/outer skin Material Aluminum–CFRP 1

Inner skin Existence Single skin–double skin 1

Sandwich design Existence With core–w/o core 1

Tension struts Existence Yes–no 1

Pole attachment Topology ‘‘Y’’ or ‘‘W’’ design 1

Rib arrangement Topology With–w/o add. ribs as web stiﬀeners 1

Inner skin curvature Shape type Cylindric–spheric 1

Inner skin curvature Shape type Normal–inverse 1

Table 8

Design variables: sizing variables

Sizing variable Dimension Min–max No. of sizing variables

Inner skin (CFRP) Layer thickness 0.125–100 mm 4 layers (sym.) · 7 regions

Inner skin (alum.) Thickness 1.2–100 mm 7 regions (if single skin design chosen)

Outer skin (CFRP) Layer thickness 0.125–100 mm 4 layers (sym.) · 7 regions

Outer skin (alum.) Thickness 1.6–100 mm 7 regions

Frame web Thickness 1.2–60 mm 7 regions

Frame web stiﬀener Height 4–200 mm 1 region

Rib Thickness 1.4–100 mm 1 region

Inner frame ﬂange Flange width 60–450 mm 7 regions

Outer frame ﬂange Flange width 20–400 mm 7 regions

Inner skin stringers Height 55–125 mm 7 (if core exists)

Outer skin stringers Height 55–125 mm 7 (if core exists)

Poles Cross-section 24–200 mm

2

1 region

Tension struts Area 500–5000 mm

2

1 (if struts desired)

Table 9

Design constraints depending on material choice

Isotropic, metallic material (cp. Table 3)

Buckling constraint: First Eigenvalue > 1 at limit load

Stress constraints: v.Mises-stress in shells, beams and

struts <r

vMises,fatigue

at limit load

Anisotropic, composite material (cp. Table 4)

Buckling constraint: First Eigenvalue > 1 at limit load

Failure constraints: Tsai-Hill component failure index

F

i

< 1.0 at ultimate load

L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118 115

design cycles until convergence was achieved or the maxi-

mum number of design cycles was reached (max. 35 cycles).

The second level required 20 min on an AMD

Opteron64, (2.2 GHz, 2 GB RAM) Linux system to evalu-

ate an individual’s ﬁtness. By parallel evaluation on 5

CPUs 6.5 h/generation were required (<1 week for 25

generations).

Due to the total number of 2500 individuals not all of

the results can be presented in detail. As an example for

the structural sizing behavior of the second level optimiza-

tion (Sol200) a single skin CFRP model is depicted in Figs.

10 and 11. The sizing history of the model’s optimization

and the corresponding thicknesses of the laminate’s layers

are shown. All layers started the optimization with an ini-

tial thickness of 0.125 mm (cp. Table 5). In the ﬁrst design

cycle the failure criterion (Tsai-Hill) was already fulﬁlled

but the ﬁrst Eigenvalue was much too low (0.038). The

optimizer, as in Fig. 10, required 25 design cycles to meet

the design requirements, in this case the Eigenvalue of 1.0

(with a tolerance of ±3%).

The ﬁnal laminate, depicted in Fig. 11 shows an

increased thickness in the circumferential ﬁbre layers (90°

layer), a moderate increase in the diagonal ﬁbre layers

(±45°) and no signiﬁcant increase in longitudinal ﬁbre ori-

entation (0°). Besides the skins all other parts of the struc-

ture have been sized as well.

The convergence behavior is depicted in Fig. 12. The ﬁt-

ness is plotted over the number of generations. Each circle

in the diagram represents the ﬁtness of an oﬀspring (100

oﬀspring/generation). The three curves in Fig. 12 show

the improvement of the ﬁtness over the number of genera-

tions. The ﬁtness of the best and the worst individual of

each generation’s parent population and the corresponding

average ﬁtness is plotted. Although the ﬁtness of the best

individual still improves slightly after 25 generations, the

average ﬁtness of the parent population remains nearly

constant. This indicates that future generations might be

subject to small changes and large ﬁtness improvements

are not expected.

Fig. 10. CFRP single skin example: Sol200 sizing history (frame height

700 mm, inner frame curvature 10 m, 2 load cases, Tsai-Hill & Eigenvalue

constraints).

Fig. 11. CFRP single skin example: thicknesses of UD-layer 1–4 of symmetric laminate after sizing (frame height 700 mm, inner frame curvature 10 m, 2

load cases, Tsai-Hill & Eigenvalue constraints).

116 L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118

Overall best result. The overall best result was deter-

mined for a single skin design with a composite skin

(23.6 kg/m

2

). The optimized frame has a height of

1400 mm at the panel edges and of 300 mm in the mid-

dle of the panel. The inner ﬂange is curved with a radius of

4 m. Additional ribs in longitudinal directions help

avoiding stability problems of the large frames.

The relevance of the material is depicted in Fig. 13. Each

sphere in the diagram represents one individual out of the

parents’ populations. The vertical position of the spheres

deﬁnes their ﬁtness. The color of the spheres depicts the

material of the pressurized skins of the models. All of the

best performing individuals of each generation have a com-

mon material type: the pressurized skin(s) are made of

composite materials which diﬀer in every layer, in every

design region and for every model due to the separate siz-

ing of each layer’s thickness.

3

The principal evolution of the shell design, deﬁned by

single or double skin arrangements, is shown in Fig. 14.

Again, the vertical position of the spheres represents their

ﬁtness while the color marks the design principle: single

or double skin. A trend cannot be detected. All generations

show a mixture of single and double skin designs in their

best 15 individuals. These 15 individuals are used to create

the parent population for the next generation.

All investigated sandwich designs resulted in a higher

weight. The result might be diﬀerent in the case of an addi-

tional constraint on the maximum frame height (e.g limited

by space requirements of the cabin).

6. Conclusion

Evaluation of structural alternatives requires investiga-

tion of multiple sensitivities. In order to rate and judge cer-

tain design alternatives a method is necessary that is able to

optimize parameters and topologies while taking certain

design constraints or design requirements into account.

This task can be fulﬁlled by an Evolution Strategy that

tries to ﬁnd suitable combinations by selection and repro-

duction of the best combinations. As shown for a simple

design case of a framework structure the pure reliance on

the ES is computationally ineﬃcient, especially since ideal

topologies and poor dimension of the members of a struc-

ture lead to the same treatment in a ﬁtness function as poor

topologies and ideal dimensions. This mixture of design

responses in one ﬁtness function can be inﬂuenced by

weighting factors. Nevertheless, the mixture of design and

Fig. 12. Convergence behavior of BWB fuselage pressurized panels.

Fig. 13. Fitness improvement vs. parent population of each generation:

colored spheres mark material of pressurized skins.

3

Here it has to be taken into account, that the material properties and

allowables strongly inﬂuence which design performs best. For demon-

stration purposes of the method the choice of properties is done

exemplarily and may not be suitable for a ﬁnal investigation.

Fig. 14. Fitness improvement vs. parent population of each generation:

colored spheres mark single or double skin models.

L.U. Hansen, P. Horst / Computers and Structures 86 (2008) 104–118 117

sizing variables in one optimization task is less eﬃcient

than dividing both tasks into two optimization levels.

The multilevel approach presented in this paper seems to

ﬁnd eﬃcient combinations of topology parameters by an

automated procedure. As shown in Figs. 6 and 12 a fast

convergence is achieved by considering only (previously)

sized models for the population. Such a sizing task is per-

formed by a second optimization level that very eﬀectively

uses gradient information to ﬁnd the best search directions.

However such investigations are limited by the required

amount of calculation time and by the need for automated

mesh generators.

Future work is planed to improve the interface between

the local, detailed and the global Finite Element models. A

more or less automated transfer of loads and boundary

condition to the local level and a way of returning these

optimized shell properties to the global level is necessary.

Acknowledgement

Part of the work presented was funded by the 5th frame-

work program of the European Union during the project

VELA (Very Eﬃcient Large Aircraft).

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