One of the most resent efforts in aircraft design is the replacement of aluminium structures by carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites. Due to lower material and manufacturing costs, doubly curved shapes covering big areas are preferred over simpler surfaces which integrate stiffening profiles. In this context, CAD parameterisation of surfaces allows design solutions by means of classical shape optimisation. Related geometrical parameters are manipulated towards optimal design, generating innovative geometries and detailing.
The presented structure is optimised by reducing the overall weight. The final optimum is guided using stability and strength restrictions in order to assure the safety of the component. Geometrical considerations are also included due to operational reasons. A hierarchical design procedure is developed which results in a work flow from preliminary ‘parameter-free’ form finding motivated by solving the minimal surface problem. The geometrical model for optimisation is recovered by generating B-Spline surface patches to preserve continuity requirements over large regions. The number of geometrical coefficients are defined by the accuracy in surface generation and the required freedom in surface control. The hierarchical approach reduces the possibilities of ending with an unsatisfactory optimum when several local minima characterise the non-linear problem, as it is usually the case in shape optimal design. A geometrical non-linear analysis is used to verify the performance of the optimum.