Topology optimization of hyperelastic structures with anisotropic fiber reinforcement under large deformations

Xiaojia Shelly Zhang, Heng Chi, Zhi Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fiber-reinforced soft materials have emerged as promising candidates in various applications such as soft robotics and soft fibrous tissues. To enable a systematic approach to design fiber-reinforced materials and structures, we propose a general topology optimization framework for the computational optimized design of hyperelastic structures with nonlinear and anisotropic fiber reinforcements under large deformations. This framework simultaneously optimizes both the material distribution in the matrix phase and the orientations of the underlying fiber reinforcements, by parameterizing matrix and fiber phases individually using two sets of design variables. The optimized distribution of fiber orientations is chosen from a set of discrete orientations defined a priori, and several fiber orientation interpolation schemes are studied. In addition, this work proposes a novel anisotropic material interpolation scheme, which integrates both matrix and fiber design variables (both with material nonlinearity) into the stored-energy function. To improve the computational efficiency of both optimization and nonlinear structural analysis, we derive a fully decoupled fiber-matrix update scheme that performs parallel updates of the matrix and fiber design variables and employ the virtual element method (VEM) together with a tailored mesh adaptivity scheme to solve the finite elasticity boundary value problem. Design examples involving three objective functions are presented, demonstrating the efficiency and effectiveness of the proposed framework in designing anisotropic hyperelastic structures under large deformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113496
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
StatePublished - May 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anisotropic hyperelasticity
  • Decoupled design update scheme
  • Fiber-orientation interpolation
  • Fiber-reinforced soft material
  • Topology optimization under large deformations
  • Virtual element method (VEM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications


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