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Proceedings Paper

Large strain variable stiffness composites for shear deformations with applications to morphing aircraft skins
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Paper Abstract

Morphing or reconfigurable structures potentially allow for previously unattainable vehicle performance by permitting several optimized structures to be achieved using a single platform. The key to enabling this technology in applications such as aircraft wings, nozzles, and control surfaces, are new engineered materials which can achieve the necessary deformations but limit losses in parasitic actuation mass and structural efficiency (stiffness/weight). These materials should exhibit precise control of deformation properties and provide high stiffness when exercised through large deformations. In this work, we build upon previous efforts in segmented reinforcement variable stiffness composites employing shape memory polymers to create prototype hybrid composite materials that combine the benefits of cellular materials with those of discontinuous reinforcement composites. These composites help overcome two key challenges for shearing wing skins: the resistance to out of plane buckling from actuation induced shear deformation, and resistance to membrane deflections resulting from distributed aerodynamic pressure loading. We designed, fabricated, and tested composite materials intended for shear deformation and address out of plane deflections in variable area wing skins. Our designs are based on the kinematic engineering of reinforcement platelets such that desired microstructural kinematics is achieved through prescribed boundary conditions. We achieve this kinematic control by etching sheets of metallic reinforcement into regular patterns of platelets and connecting ligaments. This kinematic engineering allows optimization of materials properties for a known deformation pathway. We use mechanical analysis and full field photogrammetry to relate local scale kinematics and strains to global deformations for both axial tension loading and shear loading with a pinned-diamond type fixture. The Poisson ratio of the kinematically engineered composite is ~3x higher than prototypical orthotropic variable stiffness composites. This design allows us to create composite materials that have high stiffness in the cold state below SMP Tg (4-14GPa) and yet achieve large composite shear strains (5-20%) in the hot state (above SMP Tg).

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 April 2008
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6929, Behavior and Mechanics of Multifunctional and Composite Materials 2008, 692919 (2 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.778888
Show Author Affiliations
G. P. McKnight, HRL Labs., LLC (United States)
C. P. Henry, HRL Labs., LLC (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6929:
Behavior and Mechanics of Multifunctional and Composite Materials 2008
Marcelo J. Dapino; Zoubeida Ounaies, Editor(s)

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