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Computational Design Optimization of a Smart Material Shape Changing Building Skin Tile

Zupan, Robert J.; Xu, Jing; Beblo, Richard V.; Clifford, Dale T.; Aggarwal, Ankush; Brigham, John C.

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Robert J. Zupan

Jing Xu

Richard V. Beblo

Dale T. Clifford

Ankush Aggarwal

John C. Brigham


The development and evaluation of a computational approach for optimal design of a smart material shape changing building skin is presented and numerically evaluated. Specifically, a unique shape-based approach is utilized to create an optimization approach to identify the activation and actuation mechanisms to minimize the difference between a desired shape and the estimated morphed shape. Three potential metrics of shape difference are considered and their capability to facilitate an efficient optimization process leading to accurate shape matching is evaluated. Details of the optimal design framework are presented, particularly focusing on the shape difference metrics as well as the strategy to parameterize the activation of the smart material. In particular, the parameterization strategy is a unique approach to easily integrate controllable localized activation within a smart material structure in a generally applicable way that does not limit the design search space. A series of numerical design examples are presented based on the concept of a smart material (e.g., shape memory polymer) shape changing tile that can be activated and actuated in a variety of ways to achieve desirable surface wrinkle patterns. These numerical design examples are applied to both 2D and 3D problems and consider a variety of parameterizations and target shapes. Results indicate that the shape-based approach can consistently determine the mechanisms of morphing needed to accurately match a target shape. Furthermore, it is shown that localized material activation can lead to not only a more accurate shape but also requires less energy and actuation devices to do so.


Zupan, R. J., Xu, J., Beblo, R. V., Clifford, D. T., Aggarwal, A., & Brigham, J. C. (2019). Computational Design Optimization of a Smart Material Shape Changing Building Skin Tile. Engineering Structures, 201, Article 109839.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 20, 2019
Publication Date Dec 15, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 29, 2020
Journal Engineering Structures
Print ISSN 0141-0296
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 201
Article Number 109839


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