The optimal design of the postbuckling response of variable angle tow composite structures is an important consideration for future lightweight, high-performing structures. Based on this premise, a new optimisation tool is presented for shell-type structures. The starting point is an isogeometric framework which uses NURBS interpolation functions to provide a smooth description of the deformed shapes, thereby reducing the number of degrees of freedom with respect to standard finite elements. The stiffness variation is obtained by exploiting the same NURBS interpolation to describe lamination parameters, employed as intermediate optimisation variables. This choice allows the design space to be thoroughly explored with relatively few design variables in a smooth optimisation space. Therefore, the optimisation strategy is divided into two stages. Firstly, the optimal distribution of lamination parameters is determined using a gradient based algorithm. Afterwards, an actual distribution of fibre orientation is retrieved. The viability of the tool is tested firstly onto a cylindrical panel under compressive loading. Then, the postbuckling optimisation of a composite wingbox is given. For both structures, the optimised postbuckling response is compared with those of the corresponding quasi-isotropic baselines showing significant improvements.
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