The proposed innovation is directly relevant as a joining technology for NASA Ames' 3D-woven carbon/phenolic thermal protection system (3D-TPS) for the Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) program, which is currently targeting delivery of heat shield solutions for mission programs including for future Venus, Saturn, high speed sample return, and human missions beyond lunar or Mars Sample Return (MSR) missions. Similarly, the technology will enable joining of thinner and thicker 3D woven carbon and ceramic fabrics relevant to NASA's Adaptable, Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT) program, and the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) program.
The proposed innovation will create the capability to stitch/join together carbon fiber preform assemblies with geometries too complex for existing textile processes, including 3D weaving, to achieve. Potential commercial applications thus include those composite applications where through thickness strength AND complex geometry are both required. Examples include composite armor for military vehicles and structural composites for aerospace including stitched skin + core assemblies, stitched joint assemblies and stitched skin + web-stiffener assemblies.