Deep convolutional neural networks have gained significant traction as effective approaches for developing detailed but compact representations of complex structured data. Generative networks in particular have become popular for their ability to mimic data distributions and allow further exploration of them. This attribute can be utilized in engineering design domains, in which the data structures of finite element meshes for analyzing potential designs are well suited to the deep convolutional network approaches that are being developed at a rapid pace in the field of image processing. This paper explores the use of conditional generative adversarial networks (cGANs) as a means of generating a compact latent representation of structures resulting from classical topology optimization techniques. The constraints and contextual factors of a design problem, such as mass fraction, material type, and load location, can then be specified as input conditions to generate potential topologies in a directed fashion. The trained network can be used to aid concept generation, such that engineers can explore a variety of designs relevant to the problem at hand with ease. The latent variables of the generator can also be used as design parameters, and the low dimensionality enables tractable computational design without analytical sensitivities. This paper demonstrates these capabilities and discusses avenues for further developments that would enable the engineering design community to further leverage generative machine learning techniques to their full potential.

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