Structural design and optimization - what's involved?


Model of car carrier


Optimisation / optimization


Basically, it usually amounts to making something just strong enough for the loads it is likely to be subjected to. Nature is especially good at that sort of thing, given enough time. Optimization can be applied to anything from teacups to spacecraft. In general it may seem that the more expensive the object is, the more reason to save weight or cost or to get the balance just right. But inexpensive objects used by many people or in many situations are also prime targets for optimization.


Typical project - structural weight optimization of a high-performance ship


Full structural modelling, design and structural weight optimization is especially useful for high performance ships with severe design loads, difficult speed or displacement objectives, and highly constrained naval architectural design requirements. The methods ensure that safe, durable, optimal structural designs can be incorporated into the other design constraints. A few plots are included here.


Initial structural assessment


A full computer model is developed, based on an initial structural topology and preliminary scantlings. Combinations of least weight or lowest vertical center of gravity may be applied as objectives (least cost is also possible - this requires extensive reference data).


Inclusion of shipyard/workshop standards


Sets of structural plates and shapes may be defined to conform to structural standards from a particular shipyard. In the final design cycle, each of the revised scantlings for plates and shapes are rounded to match those in the structural library, thereby achieving 'optimized' and practical designs.


Final weight optimization


After initial structural modifications are input to the model, a further iteration of the optimisation capability may be required to minimise structural weight.


Model of 78m high-speed catamaran