This study is concerned with the use of structural optimization techniques to achieve minimum weight in panel designs. Major emphasis is placed on design applications and on the development of a practical and efficient lightweight design-search system for vehicle structural panel designs. This allows the system to be formed more effectively in adopting special analysis schemes, design considerations, and optimization algorithms to fit the vehicle structural design requirements. The relative merits and disadvantages of computer adaptations of some of the more promising algorithms are also discussed.
Solutions to some specific minimum weight example problems pertaining to reinforced automotive panel design are presented. Results are obtained for both homogeneous and bimaterial panel assemblies. Minimum allowable structural performance criteria are enforced through nonlinear constraint equations. Numerical results are obtained using a lightweight design-search system (LDSS) currently under development.