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Application of tailored fibre placement technology in integral composite structures for ultra-lightweight space applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SPS_TFP_Strut (Application of tailored fibre placement technology in integral composite structures for ultra-lightweight space applications)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-03-31

The project was intended to investigate feasibility of applying the tailored fibre placement (TFP) technology for design and manufacturing of composite structural parts for space applications.
Objectives were to demonstrate that 3 areas of concern to our customers, the space industry can be targeted:
• Ultra-lightweight, due to replacement of metallic fittings, with CFRP and maximum efficiency carbon fibre orientation and continuity along the load paths
• Cost and manufacturing time reduction, due to cheaper material, manufacturing automation and simplification of processes
• Environmental friendly. Smaller footprint because the energy intensive manufacturing and chemical bonding of metallic fittings is removed from the process. Ultra-light structures also reduce the propellant consumption during launch of space vehicles.
Performing a requirements study, material study as well as structural analysis and design and the manufacturing a prototype should demonstrate these objectives.
A further objective was to establish a business plan for the product.
A strut was selected as a good candidate structure.
The feasibility study in phase 1 investigated if this type of structure can be designed to meet space requirements and concluded with the manufacturing of a prototype.
A requirements study, material study as well as structural analysis and design for a market relevant strut prototype were performed.
The material study showed that one additional unplanned objective can be achieved easily, namely thermal stability, which is required for precise scientific missions in space.
It was identified that the mass can be reduced by 75% compared to state-of-the-art solutions.
The manufacturing of a prototype with the planned processes was successful which demonstrated the targeted more environmental friendly production and the principal manufacturing feasibility. In conclusion all three planned objectives plus one additional unplanned objective were achieved during the feasibility study. Lessons learned were established for the next steps of the development.
The project concluded with the elaboration of a business plan which identified that the proposed project will be profitable even with conservatively assumed revenues.
The final results are a strut prototype and a solid business plan.
The next step, and most important step towards commercialisation, is the qualification of market-relevant strut designs. Without a qualification by test which covers all requirements for space application, it is impossible to sell the product. Thus, Space Structures is pursuing to receive funding for a phase 2 project.
The new product will be redefining the state-of-the-art and is considered a game changer for the target market.
In addition it will be more environmentally friendly than current products.
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