This project develops design and analysis tools for ultra-thin and tailorable composites made from the Tailorable universal Feedstock for Forming (TuFF) material developed under a recent DARPA program by our academic partner University of Delaware-Center for Composites Materials (UD-CCM). The highly-aligned short fiber TuFF material and manufacturing process enables the development of tailorable advanced composites, through in-plane fiber architectural control as well as ultra-thin ply thicknesses. TuFF feedstock can be processed using conventional autoclave with mechanical properties equivalent to continuous fiber composites. The effort will develop design and analysis tools for TuFF feedstock that account for in-plane fiber contours (controllable and manufacturable splines) for each ply with manufacturability constraints, develop/use optimization tools to establish optimal contours per ply and implement thin-ply architectures for toughness and damage tolerance.
The overall approach will develop models for stiffness, strength and potentially toughness/damage tolerance with integration into commercial software codes for composite design and analysis. CA will partner with Altair to leverage HyperWorks composite design/analysis tools and identify integration approaches that synergize with built-in toolsets for analysis and optimization. This effort will also coordinate with our Z4.06 topic proposal (if funded) so that design/analysis tools developed in this effort are suitable for Z4.06 TuFF and composite manufacturing strategies.
The effort will result in the development of add-on capabilities for design/analysis of tailorable TuFF composites to existing commercial codes, and include manufacturability constraints for an addressable design space. Ultimately, the software tools will enable the prediction of manufacturable fiber architectures for TuFF thin-ply composites, with goal of maximizing performance at minimum weight.
Enhancing design tools for tailorable composites within manufacturable constraints represents a key advancement in the next-generation lightweight high performance composites. Minimum weight solutions and the potential for material reuse with thin-ply and tailorable composites are critical for deep-space habitation structures and can be used in many smaller size components such as attachment brackets, hinges, clevises, etc.
The general approach and specific technologies developed in this SBIR can also be applied to other military platforms and commercial applications (aerospace, automotive, wind etc). These applications may require additional design/analysis tool development and R&D to meet certifications and particular application requirements.