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Morphing Aircraft Structure: Topology Optimization

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Within the last decade there has been renewed interest in the development of morphing aircraft structures which can undergo complex changes of configuration during flight. This was spurred in particular by the announcement of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Morphing Aircraft Structures (MAS) programme. Many proposed concepts rely on the use of compliant structures which allow smooth, aerodynamically-efficient profiles to be retained in all configurations. The use of topology optimization techniques is well-suited to the design of compliant structures, as their behaviour can be unintuitive (particularly when the compliance is not localized), and thus they are difficult to design by conventional methods.

An implementation of ‘Load Path Topology Optimization’ is presented, which is then applied to the design of an adaptive wing leading edge structure. It is shown that the use of topology optimization can assist the development of feasible adaptive aircraft structures. A prototype model will be demonstrated.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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