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Topology Optimization with the Discrete Element Method

Lookup NU author(s): Connor O'Shaughnessy, Dr Eric Masoero, Dr Sadegh NadimiORCiD, Professor Peter Gosling



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a conference proceedings (inc. abstract) that has been published in its final definitive form by UK Association for Computational Mechanics , 2022.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Structural Topology optimization is attracting increasing attention as a complement to additive manufacturingtechniques. The optimization algorithms usually employ continuum-based Finite Element analyses,but some important materials and processes are better described by discrete models, for example granularmaterials, powder-based 3D printing, or structural collapse. To address these phenomena we have adaptedthe established framework of Topology optimization to address systems modelled with the Discrete ElementMethod. Our method discretizes the design domain for a classical topology optimization probleminto a system of mechanically interacting particles; that may for example model the fracture mechanicsof a beam, or the powder rheology inside a mill. A modified SIMP topology optimization algorithm canthen drive the system towards optimal performance, defined for example in terms of minimising damage,or maximising system energy. The immediate benefits of this new approach include the easy and simpleincorporation of geometric and mechanical non-linearity as a product of particle wise interactions, optimizingdynamic phenomena such as impacts and progressive failure, and the optimization of discontinuous,continuum, or combined media. The methods efficacy has been shown in an initial paper proving theconcept in applications to simple beam problems. But the work remains to fully develop the techniqueand realise the goal to tackle the kinds of problems that rely on discrete behaviors that have traditionallyimpeded the adoption of topology optimization.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Shaughnessy C, Masoero E, Nadimi S, Gosling PD

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Annual Conference of the UK Association for Computational Mechanics (UKACM 2022)

Year of Conference: 2022

Online publication date: 21/04/2022

Acceptance date: 20/04/2022

Date deposited: 28/04/2022

Publisher: UK Association for Computational Mechanics


ePrints DOI: 10.57711/d552-8b07