In this work, we explore simultaneous geometry design and material selection for statically determinate trusses by posing it as a continuous optimization problem. The underlying principles of our approach are structural optimization and Ashby’s procedure for material selection from a database. For simplicity and ease of initial implementation, only static loads are considered in this work with the intent of maximum stiffness, minimum weight/cost, and safety against failure. Safety of tensile and compression members in the truss is treated differently to prevent yield and buckling failures, respectively. Geometry variables such as lengths and orientations of members are taken to be the design variables in an assumed layout. Areas of cross-section of the members are determined to satisfy the failure constraints in each member. Along the lines of Ashby’s material indices, a new design index is derived for trusses. The design index helps in choosing the most suitable material for any geometry of the truss. Using the design index, both the design space and the material database are searched simultaneously using gradient-based optimization algorithms. The important feature of our approach is that the formulated optimization problem is continuous, although the material selection from a database is an inherently discrete problem. A few illustrative examples are included. It is observed that the method is capable of determining the optimal topology in addition to optimal geometry when the assumed layout contains more links than are necessary for optimality.
Material selection Geometry optimization Failure criteria Buckling Truss design