Buckling optimization design of curved stiffeners for grid-stiffened composite structures

Dan Wang, Mostafa M. Abdalla, Weihong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Grid-stiffened composite structures not only allow for significant structural weight reduction but also are competitive in terms of structural stability and damage tolerance compared with conventional stiffened candidates. As the development of Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) technology matures, a unitized construction of skin and stiffeners is easily manufacturable. In this paper, a curved stiffener layout is optimized to enhance the structural buckling resistance. A linear variation of stiffener angles is used, resulting in the formation of a locally rhombic lattice pattern. Due to the spatial variation of angle and spacing induced by the use of curved stiffeners, analytic solutions for the responses are not generally applicable. Thus, global and local buckling loads are calculated based on finite element models by a previously-developed global/local coupled strategy. Since the stiffeners are not explicitly modelled in the finite element calculations, a fixed mesh is used for gradient-based optimization. Both parametric design and optimization are performed in order to find the optimal curved grid pattern, whose practical performances are assessed by post-buckling analysis. A comparison between the performances of structures with curved stiffeners, with straight stiffeners, and variable-stiffness skins with curved fibres, demonstrates the potential of curved stiffener configurations in improving the structural efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-666
Number of pages11
JournalComposite Structures
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Curved stiffeners
  • Global and local buckling
  • Grid-stiffened composite structures
  • Optimization
  • Unitized structural system

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