Topology Optimization Framework for Modular Structures

Kristie Higginson (PhD candidate) and Fred van Keulen (supervisor) 

Modular structures exhibit numerous benefits such as reduced fabrication cost, increased speed of construction and enhanced quality control. As these structures become increasingly apparent in modern structural engineering, there is scope to extend existing topology optimization methods to aid in the efficient design of modular structures.


To develop an optimization framework for the design of modular structures, which may be assembled from one or more different module types.


Topology Optimization (TO) with pattern constraints is employed for the design of modular structures. When more than one module type is used, the combined problem must be solved for both the topology of the different module types, as well as the layout of the module types amongst the different bays of the structure. For the simultaneous module topology and module layout problem, an innovative formulation based on Discrete Material Optimization techniques is employed, which ensures a unique module type is chosen at each bay location.


Illustration of the developed framework for modular structures is shown in Figure 1. The structure is assembled modularly as 12 bays, and the optimization was performed considering the cases of using one module type, and up to five different module types. The resulting topologies are shown in Figure 1, in addition to the topology if no modularity is considered.

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