Variable-axial fiber-reinforced composites allow for local customization of fiber orientation and thicknesses. Despite their significant potential for performance improvement over the conventional multiaxial composites and metals, they pose challenges in design optimization due to the vastly increased design freedom in material orientations. This paper presents an anisotropic topology optimization (TO) method for designing large-scale, 3D variable-axial composite structures. The computational challenge for large-scale 3D TO with extremely low volume fraction is addressed by a tensor-based representation of 3D orientation that would avoid the 2π periodicity of angular representation such as Eular angles, and an adaptive meshing scheme, which, in conjunction with PDE regularization of the density variables, refines the mesh where structural members appear and coarsens where there is void. The proposed method is applied to designing a heavy-duty drone frame subject to complex multi-loading conditions. Finally, the manufacturability gaps between the optimized design and the fabrication-ready design for Tailored Fiber Placement (TFP) is discussed, which motivates future work toward fully-automated design synthesis.

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