Symbolic representation of two microstructures in the colors blue and gray

Lightweight Design

Lightweight design refers to the development and design of structural components that fulfil their desired functionality under the given boundary conditions with minimal material usage/weight. Not only does the reduced amount of material lead to cost reduction during both manufacturing and usage, but there is also an immediate effect of reduced exploitation of resources.

Modern lightweight design is required to address the fields of development and design, analysis, material design, and production engineering. To unite these fields under one roof is the specialty of the lightweight design group at ILSB. The group’s research goal is the development of application-specific numerical methods and their utilization in numerical design. These goals are achieved as part of fundamental research projects funded by national or international research foundations, but at the same time, our research results stem from collaborations with industrial partners on specific problems.

The fields of interest not only include nonlinear modelling and simulation of the thermo–mechanical properties of a variety of structures and composites, reaching from nano-structures to whole components, but also extend to the numerical design of the corresponding manufacturing processes. The analysis is based on both analytical and numerical approaches and includes the development and implementation of algorithms.

With respect to design, classic optimization algorithms are combined with model order reduction and machine learning. One core competence of the research group is geometry representation using splines, which is employed in shape optimization, but also in numerical simulation by means of isogeometric analysis.

Overview of the subject areas

The modern lightweight design combines the four fields of development and design, analyses, material design, and production engineering. The research area Lightweight Design at the ILSB is divided into two research groups:

Numerical Analysis and Design Methods

The research group Numerical Analysis and Design Methods develops methods for the numerical design of components and related manufacturing processes. The focus is on the one hand on the development of efficient simulation methods and model reduction methods and on the other hand on shape and topology optimization. In both areas, the use of splines is a special feature, on the one hand for geometry representation, but also in simulation as part of isogeometric analysis. Another focus is on scientific machine learning, e.g. the use of reinforcement learning as a shape optimization algorithm.

Structur and Material Simulation

The research group “Structur and Material Simulation” focuses on non-linear modeling and simulation of the thermo-mechanical properties of materials and structures ranging from nanostructures up to large scale components.

Special attention is put on the non-linear behavior of structures and materials under consideration of composites, metamaterials and compounds. Computational predictions are based on analytical and numerical engineering methods and also include algorithmic developments and implementations.

Our research aims at the advancement of computational tools and their application for the investigation of structures and materials. Research is conducted both as basic research and in cooperation with industrial partners, supported by national and international funding programs.