I'm trying to optimally fill a 3D spherical volume with "particles" (represented by 3D XYZ vectors) that need to maintain a specific distance from each other, while attempting to minimize the amount of free space present in-between them.
There's one catch though- The particles themselves may fall on the boundary of the spherical volume- they just can't exist outside of it. Ideally, I'd like to maximize the number of particles that fall on this boundary (which makes this a kind of spherical packing problem, I suppose) and then fill the rest of the volume inwards.
Are there any kinds of algorithms out there that can solve this sort of thing? It doesn't need to be exact, but the key here is that the density of the final solution needs to be reasonably accurate (+/- ~5% of a "perfect" solution).