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Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program

Atoms to Aircraft to Spacecraft (A2A)

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Designing for Fastener-Free Assembly from Atoms-to-Aircraft

The next generation of aerospace systems requires materials and structures that combine high performance at high utilization in short missions with the possibility of high rate production, without excessive non-recurring cost, to allow for rate flexibility and shorter structural life cycles. The development of materials and structures that offer this flexibility in rate without negatively influencing performance and economic viability will require a matching and overlapping experimental and computational design approach.

The objective is to go from Atom to Airframe to Spaceframe for thermoplastic unidirectional tape based fastener-free assemblies. Thermoplastic composites are chosen as the focus because these materials allow for reversible fusion bonding in every stage of their life cycle after synthesis. Our strategy is to combine multi-scale computational approaches with multi-scale experimental activities to develop an understanding of and capabilities to manufacture custom unidirectional thermoplastic tape. This tape will be the basis for our high-rate multiple-technology manufacturing approach validated by the production of two representative demonstrators for urban air mobility vehicle structures. The multi-disciplinary team will work in an integrated manner to effectively combine computational approaches with experimental approaches at each stage of characteristic manufacturing flows.

The team aims for tools and technology to quantify the thermo-rheological aspects of unidirectional tape-based production and assembly of aerospace quality thermoplastic components as well as for validated tools for unidirectional tape-based thermoplastic preform and part design and manufacture. The work will be used to design and build two demonstration structural parts characteristic for urban air mobility vehicles.

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