The operational performance of cantilever composite structures can benefit from both stiffness tailoring and geometric design, yet, this potential has not been fully utilized in existing studies. The present study addresses this problem by simultaneously optimizing layer and taper angles of cantilever laminates. The design objective is selected as minimizing the average deflection of the tip edge subjected to shear loads while keeping the length and total volume constant. The plate stiffness properties are described by lamination parameters to eliminate the possible solution dependency on the initial assumptions regarding laminate configuration. The responses are computed via finite element analyses, while optimal design variables are determined using genetic algorithms. The results demonstrate that the plate aspect ratio significantly influences the effectiveness of stiffness tailoring and tapering as well as the optimal layer and taper angles. In addition, concurrent exploitation of the lamination characteristics and plate geometry is shown to be essential for achieving maximum performance. Moreover, individual and simultaneous optimization of layer and taper angles produce different optimal results, indicating the possible drawback of using sequential approaches in similar composite design problems.
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