Geometry Based Design Automation : Applied to Aircraft Modelling and Optimization

Abstract: Product development processes are continuously challenged by demands for increased efficiency. As engineering products become more and more complex, efficient tools and methods for integrated and automated design are needed throughout the development process. Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) is one promising technique that has the potential to drastically improve concurrent design. MDO frameworks combine several disciplinary models with the aim of gaining a holistic perspective of a system, while capturing the synergies between different subsystems. Among all disciplines, the geometric model is recognized as playing a key role, because it collects most of the data required to any other disciplinary analysis. In the present thesis, methodologies to enable multidisciplinary optimization in early aircraft design phases are studied. In particular, the research aims at putting the CAD geometric model in the loop. This requires the ability to automatically generate or update the geometric model, here referred to as geometry-based design automation.The thesis proposes the use of Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE) techniques to achieve design reuse and automation. In particular, so called High Level CAD templates (HLCts) are suggested to automate geometry generation and updates. HLCts can be compared to parametric LEGO® blocks containing a set of design and analysis parameters. These are produced and stored in libraries, giving engineers or a computer agent the possibility to first topologically select the templates and then modify the shape of each template parametrically.Since parameterization is central to modelling by means of HLCts, a thorough analysis of the subject is also performed. In most of the literature on MDO and KBE two recurring requirements concerning the geometrical model are expressed: the model should be flexible and robust. However, these requirements have never been properly formulated or defined. Hence, in the thesis a mathematical formulation for geometry model robustness and flexibility are proposed. These formulations ultimately allow the performance of geometric models to be precisely measured and compared.Finally, a prototyping and validation process is presented. The aim is to quickly and cost-effectively validate analytical results from an MDO process. The proposed process adopts different manufacturing techniques depending on the size and purpose of the intended prototype. In the last part of the thesis, three application examples are presented. The examples are chosen from research projects that have been carried out at Linköping University and show how the proposed theoretical results have been successfully employed in practice.