Structural Optimization with COMSOL Multiphysics

Engineer working in Optimization Module of COMSOL

Explore COMSOL’s Optimization Module for enhanced engineering designs. The video below provides a quick overview of COMSOL Multiphysics, spotlighting mechanical modeling and optimization tools.

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If you’ve embarked on the COMSOL Multiphysics journey, you’re already familiar with the thrill of modeling intricate mechanical systems. Now, let’s dive into a game-changer within the COMSOL add-ons—the Optimization Module—and explore how it can amplify your engineering ingenuity.

For those still getting acquainted with COMSOL, the Optimization Module is your secret weapon. It can help you to have a systematic approach to tweak designs for minimal energy consumption or squeeze out maximum performance.

When to use the Optimization Module?

Let’s identify the problems the Optimization Module can help you solve. The Optimization Module’s systematic exploratory processes are especially useful for two main categories of challenges:

Design Problems with a Single Objective

In this scenario, the focus is on identifying the values of control variables or design variables that optimize a model’s performance, as measured by an objective function. Examples include structural optimization, antenna design, and process optimization. Here, the emphasis often lies in enhancing the objective function robustly rather than solely seeking the absolute optimum.

Inverse Problems and Parameter Estimation in PDEs

This class of problems involves determining values for a set of parameters that generate simulated data closely aligned with measured data. Applications span geophysical imaging, nondestructive testing, biomedical imaging, and weather data assimilation, including curve fitting. These challenges can frequently be framed as optimization problems in a broader sense.

In addressing these challenges, the Optimization interface, Optimization study step, and Parameter Estimation study step within COMSOL Multiphysics play a pivotal role. These features serve as valuable tools not only for solving design problems but also for tackling inverse problems and parameter estimation with precision.

What does the workflow in the Optimization Module look like?

The steps of the workflow in the Optimization Module are as straightforward as they come:

Getting Started with Classical Optimization:

  • Start with an empty model and add a Stationary study and an Optimization study step.
  • Define parameters and help variables under Global Definitions.
  • Set up your objective function, control variables, and constraints in the Optimization study step.

Multiphysics Optimization:

  • Build a forward model with your geometry and physics.
  • Define parameters or add control variables using the Optimization interface.
  • Ensure your forward model is solving correctly for reasonable control variable values.
  • Fine-tune your objective function and constraints before hitting the solve button.


Pro tip: If you’re dealing with global scalar control variables, constraint expressions, and objective functions, you can set everything up directly in the Optimization study step. The Optimization interface is your go-to only for more complex scenarios.

In our recent video, we spotlight the software’s mechanical modeling tools and, more importantly, the Optimization Module that adds a whole new dimension to your simulations.

Learn more

To delve deeper into the topics, explore the following resources:

  • White Paper: Introduction to Optimization Module
    Kickstart your modeling endeavors with this comprehensive whitepaper. Designed to provide a quick initiation, it showcases typical use cases of the Optimization Module. Explore two tutorial models illustrating the workflow—a curve fitting problem and a topology optimization of a structural beam.
    Read the white paper.
  • On-Demand Webinar: Shape and Topology Optimization with COMSOL 6.1.
    Discover how COMSOL 6.1’s Optimization Module can create designs that not only meet performance goals but also do so in a time- and cost- effective manner. This video discusses practical applications and insights, offering a deeper understanding of utilizing the Optimization Module for optimized design solutions.
    Watch the video.

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