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Title: Superior structural design through automated topology optimization and advanced manufacturing
Author: Muir, Martin James
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 7940
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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Challenging times lie ahead for commercial aerospace, facing regulatory pressure to reduce emissions on one side and the potential of increased competition on the other, a continuation of the business and engineering philosophies which led to such a healthy orderbook in the past, cannot be guaranteed for the future – substantial, disruptive change is required. Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Topology Optimization (TO) are two technologies under investigation by Airbus and others which have promised to deliver such change. Problematically, both are expert level technologies with enormous complexities and thus their application is commonly applied only where justification of such skills for such lengths of time can be considered to be economically viable. However, whilst there are indeed gains to be had in such large, complex structures, their numbers on commercial aircraft are few. Conversely, there are literally thousands of small, heavy, metallic components which would benefit from the application of these technologies if the cost of technology application could be reduced. The aim of this research is to deskill the application of TO and AM by automating the process of TO specific to manufacturing via AM and thus reduce the cost of its implementation and increase the practicality of its application. Through a survey of the Airbus user community, a standardised series of tools, inputs, outputs and process was developed, culminating in an analysis of time consumed during a series of optimization tasks. From this list of tasks and the time lost to each, a series of targets for automation were identified and researched. Using a series of interconnected codes and scripts, pre-processing phases such as design space creation, meshing and loading application were automated and applied to a common FEM template. Within this template, generic material and geometric capability figures for AM Ti64 Grade 5 were established via bespoke testing on a range of AM platforms under common parameters and builds. After this, methods for automated design extraction back to parametric CAD were investigated and performed, establishing a direct link between the FEM and the output CAD to enable rapid design development. The combined series of automation steps leads to an almost 75% reduction in total non-recurring cost for optimization and design of small components. Whilst not, as yet, wholly industrialised and implemented within Airbus, research from the early phases is now in use for MDO tools within Airbus and Airbus Group.
Supervisor: Querin, Ozz Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available