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Optimal Design of Lightweight and High-Performance Structures for Future Fuel-Efficient Army and Commercial Ground Vehicles

Optimal Design of a Lightweight and High-Performance Structure

Objective of this research is to develop an advanced methodology for designing and manufacturing lightweight and high-performance structures for future fuel-efficient Army and commercial ground vehicles. Emerging engineered materials will be considered as key applications of the approach to be developed. These new materials include lattice block materials (LBM), grating materials, sandwich structures with metallic foams, and functionally gradient materials (FGM). The proposed new methodology, referred to as function-oriented material design (FOMD), is based on the topology optimization method developed at the University of Michigan since 1988 and known throughout the world as the “homogenization design method.” This methodology is believed to be essential to the development of future Army ground vehicle structures for the following two reasons: First, it will be critical to the material selection process, allowing one to determine which new materials have greatest potential in terms of lightweight and high performance; Second, it will provide an effective tool for the design, in an optimal way, of new materials such as the engineered materials mentioned above. With the design tool developed in this program, new materials will be optimally designed to meet the requirements for advanced structural performance. Hence optimal design will then be achieved in terms of both structural performance and material properties.

The methodology developed in this program will lead to significant weight reductions for structures in future Army combat systems. It will also enhance the performance of structures and materials, including NVH characteristics, crush energy absorption capabilities, and high-speed impact resistance. This research program will also result in significantly improved vehicle structures for the commercial sector. The dual use character of this effort will further increase the opportunity for affordable implementation of the methodology, thus enabling the Army to meet its goals for future fuel-efficient and high-performance ground vehicles.