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Keith McDaniels1, RJ Downs2, Heiner Meldner3, Cameron Beach4, Chris Adams5 Cubic Tech Corp., Mesa, Arizona, 85205
Flexible laminates, customized for specific performance parameters, are of interest to aerospace programs such as lighter-than-air vehicles, balloon systems, decelerator systems, flexible inflatable structures and pressure vessels. The material requirements for these applications include high strength-to-weight ratio and modulus, low gas permeability, pressure retention and the capability to survive in harsh atmospheric, marine and/or stratospheric environments for extended periods of time. Non-woven multidirectional oriented composite laminates using high performance engineering fibers are produced by Cubic Tech to meet these requirements. These flexible laminates achieve a significant weight savings over woven fabrics of similar strengths by eliminating strength and modulus loss and other structural deficiencies caused by crimping of yarns during the weaving process. The absence of crimp in non-woven fabrics results in a linear elastic response that allows for ease in predicting material properties and simplification of structural models. These flexible composites afford the ability to specify structural properties, oriented to meet any design requirement. Parts can be manufactured with complex 2D and 3D geometries with integrated structures, load patches and attachment points. Structures fabricated from these laminates can be joined using standard industry seaming techniques to produce seams stronger than the base laminates. Properly designed seams hold structural loads for extended periods without failure, slip or creep.
CT FAW LTA MDA PBO PEN PET PVF SBIR UHMWPE USASMDC = = = = = = = = = = = Cubic Tech Corp. Fiber Areal Weight Lighter-Than-Air Missile Defense Agency Poly(p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole) Polyethylene Naphthalate Polyethylene Terephthalate Polyvinyl Flouride Small Business Innovation Research Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command
he development of advanced materials will continue to enable previously impossible aerospace applications. Research continues on novel materials that minimize weight and improve strength, while addressing other critical properties. Flexible composites, owing their heritage to high performance, low stretch sails used in yacht racing competitions, including around the world races, continue to be developed by Cubic Tech Corp. (CT). These materials take advantage of the newest in high strength-to-weight ratio fibers, technical films, woven fabrics, and Materials Engineer, Research and Technology President of Cubic Tech and Senior Engineer, Research and Technology 3 CEO of Cubic Tech 4 Materials Engineer, Research and Technology 5 Vice President of Operations, Industrial Engineer, Research and Technology 1 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp.
2. Besides LTA applications. To encompass the spectrum of potential material properties. which include low temperature. the size of the system.1-5 Lockheed Martin’s High Altitude Airship (HAATM) program (Fig.6 For other decelerator systems. large kites.other high performance materials. examples of ultra-light. terrestrial inflatables. inflatable tubes. Finally. medium. CT received funding from the MDA (a program transferred to the USASMDC) for two phases of SBIR work on the development of “Very Lightweight High Tenacity Fabrics” for high altitude lighter-than-air systems. From DARPA Briefing: fabrics must be flexible. These laminates must also retain greater than 85% strength at 5 years and must incorporate coatings for environmental protection and thermal control while passing radar transmittance specifications. high tear strength ensures survivability during the impact with sharp surfaces. medical devices. At low temperatures the material must have adequate flexibility for retraction and maintain sufficient strength at the elevated temperatures encountered during inflation and on impact. high performance materials are used for re-entry airbag systems. . In an early phase Figure 1. This paper will introduce concepts of flexible composite technology and the potential advancement in the stateof-the-art of materials for LTA. Low mass due to launch vehicle mass constraints and high tensile strength for high-pressure impact loads is necessary. Figure 2. For high altitude. The requirements for these materials are similar to those for LTA systems except the need for increased abrasion and puncture resistance. strength-to-weight ratio of the material is critical to payload capability. Material Challenges Material challenges in aerospace applications have been well documented in previous publications. and maximum operational altitude.pdf resistant to shock and tearing loads. low temperature flexibility is necessary for ballonet materials. CT developed advanced hull (courtesy of Lockheed Martin) material samples for an unmanned stratospheric airship. In addition. LTA systems. the material can only be minimally affected by creasing for tight packaging. and http://www. Lightweight outdoor products. HAATM Conceptual Images of the ISIS program. and low gas permeability retains the inflation gas. low gas transmission. unaffected by folding. intense UV radiation. and high ozone concentration. and heavyweight materials of various constructions will be presented. and most recently high altitude airships have been developed using this technology. is necessary to maintain lift for long duration missions. which inflate and deflate during operation.mil/sto/space/pdf/ISIS. 1) and DARPA’s Integrated Sensor Is Structure (ISIS) program are examples of unmanned stratospheric airships requiring high performance ultra-light hull fabrics. high tear resistance ensures the durability of the vehicle (preventing catastrophic tear propagation). The intuitive engineer may find utility in these materials for applications requiring similar weight materials or anything in-between. parafoils. space inflatables. Materials must be able to survive tough stratospheric environmental conditions.darpa. and materials must have adequate bondability for durable joints. Lastly. These hull fabric samples achieved critical performance parameters such as: Areal density less than 100 g/m2 for a fiber strength-to-weight ratio greater than 1000 kN*m/kg and a matrix glass transition temperature of less than minus 90°C as listed in Fig. parachutes. and decelerator systems. including parachutes and parafoils. 2 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp. II. through the hull and ballonet.
. while allowing for weight and thickness optimization. Spectra). Figure 3. glass. and visible and UV light protection. woven fabrics suffer from crimp. Twaron. A variety of surface films. Crimp related reduction in properties is particularly pronounced with higher performance engineering fibers where optimization of axial filaments properties weakens transverse properties of the filaments. and Vectran meet and exceed many of the material requirements in these applications. Lightweight woven products must use a multitude of low denier tows. and urethane. III. This eases manufacturability. while CT is able to produce similar. and feathered patterns. or coatings can be incorporated including. Reinforcements may include attachment loops. para-aramids (Kevlar. (Left) 3D 360° Radial Reinforced Panel & (Right) Large 40ft x 40ft Integrated Structure Panel for Decelerator Applications C. and may be formed in 2 and 3-dimensional parts. low gas permeability. Technora). this reduces the translation of fiber strength to fabric strength and decreases long-term fatigue and creep rupture performance. PVF (Tedlar). corner patches. Flexible Composite Implementations CT produces flexible. The resulting composite laminates are tailored and optimized for strength.8 Non-woven oriented composite laminates are free from 3 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp. Non-Woven Construction Non-woven fabrics have a number of technical and performance advantages over woven fabrics. Upilex. B. Available fiber choices include. carbon. including Dyneema®. multidirectional. LaRC-CP1). These materials maintain a significant advantage over traditional materials. Tensile loading of woven fabric induces transverse loads at fiber overlap sections as crimped fibers attempt to straighten. CT’s laminates can utilize most of the advanced engineering fiber materials available.Recent advances in high performance fibers. whose strength-to-weight ratios are too low for advanced aerospace applications. Figure 4 is a magnified image of a woven polyester fabric followed by an illustration of crimp in woven fabrics as load is applied. such as those made from polyester or nylon. radial and edge load point reinforcement. stretch properties. foils. Figure 3 demonstrates an integrated 360° radial reinforcement pattern.3 oz/yd2 to over 20 oz/yd2. Flexible Composite Overview A. but not limited to: PET (Mylar). which is caused by fibers passing over and under each other in the weave. and polyester. Woven vs. and design is based on the required operating conditions and parameters of the specific application. Additionally. but are not limited to: UHMWPE (Dyneema®. polyimide (Kapton. Zylon. These surface materials add customizable properties including toughness. non-woven laminates from oriented filament layers and high performance films or surface coatings. and oftentimes-lighter weight. materials from a lower number of high denier tows. and a large integrated structure panel. There are also woven backing options for improved durability and abrasion resistance. Internal Reinforcement / Complex Geometries The laminated construction of composite fabrics enables the introduction of internal reinforcement patterns that minimize weight and are structurally sound locations for attachment points. ranging from 0. These materials are easily customizable to a wide variety of weights. to name a few. polyamide (Nylon). low and high temperature operating capability. nylon. although these often add to the weight and thickness of the material. PBO (Zylon).7. and minimum thickness. liquid crystal polymer (Vectran).
. A thorough understanding of material properties along with the use of appropriate safety factors simplifies application specific fiber selection and minimizes risk. carbon. with no crimp. and Vectran fibers is presented in the following paragraphs. Materials Overview CT has experience engineering laminates using a wide variety of high performance fibers that are chosen depending on the specific application and technical requirements.8 Tensile loading of woven fabric induces transverse loads at thread overlap intersections due to straightening of crimped fibers. (Right) Conceptual Drawing of a non-woven material.10 An overview of the material properties for the Dyneema®. Figure 5. Figure 4. nylon.these limitations and may be produced with an unlimited range of fiber areal weights having multiple oriented layers positioned at any angle. paraaramid. and most other engineering fibers. CT can also produce composites from UHMWPE. Zylon. CT will work with specialized surface coating manufacturers to meet project requirements. A conceptual drawing of a non-woven fabric is also included in Fig. The fiber descriptions are followed by a brief overview of typical surface coating options. thickness. (Left) Comparative Stress-Strain of materials with and without creep. The most significant advantages of oriented laminates are the ability to optimize weight.7. Non-woven flexible composites constructed from high modulus fibers have predictable and linear properties for engineered designs.9. polyester. IV. Magnified Image of Woven Polyester and Crimp Diagram. For aerospace applications requiring specific surface properties. Figure 5 illustrates this point with a stress-strain graph of a non-woven material. and a woven fabric having crimp. glass. and strengths at particular locations or along predetermined load paths. 5. Engineering fibers each exhibit a particular blend of properties and differing applications require fibers that have differing property tradeoffs. 4 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp.
at a lower cost than other options. and determine life factors from.9 173. UV performance and flex/fold resistance. creates a laminate hybrid that blends the high strength.21 B. Zylon. Bondability & Seaming Regardless of the strength of an aerospace quality material. the strength or dimensional stability of joints used to construct the structure is often a limiting factor in structures made using flexible materials. Dyneema® has the 2nd highest strength-to-weight ratio (second only to PBO for commercially available fibers). Woven coatings are often incorporated into CT laminates when high abrasion resistance is the priority.0 Figure 6.1 114. Performance concerns with Dyneema® include creep.12.4 3. such as Kapton or Upilex.4 53.5. Zylon has a high decomposition temperature and excellent creep resistance. strength. remain stable over a wide range of temperatures and have good electric properties.8 Zylon HM 1.24 Vectran was qualified for use in the Mars Pathfinder landing system. such as Mylar (a biaxially oriented PET). gas barrier properties. Due to the high strength. and modulus for Dyneema®.3 2.97 3. and its low melting temperature.1 Tensile Modulus (GPa) 180 270 111 75 103 Specific Modulus (Modulus / Density) 116.2 73. For weatherability.7 3. adhesion. are used for their high tensile strength. Fiber Properties Comparison Table12. .56 5. The use of woven materials on one side of composite.8 3.5 2.8 Dyneema® 0. It is available with slightly higher strength-toweight ratio than Dyneema®.54 5.23. As a result it must be very carefully protected from these conditions.6 Figure 6 compares the density.5 This tradeoff of less than ideal creep but excellent UV performance may be easier to design for. provide long-term durability and environmental stability. Woven coatings are typically heavier than other types of surface coatings but can be the best choice in areas of the part design where abrasion resistance is the driving factor. and Vectran. chemical and dimensional stability.2. References 13-16 provide information on the mechanisms and test results for the creep behavior of Dyneema®. These values provide a better point for comparison. than from materials with opposite trade-offs. high temperature resistance and low coefficient of friction. dimensionally stable flexible composite construction with the limited benefits of woven technology. The strength of Zylon is significantly decreased by exposure to high humidity/high temperature. High Performance Engineering Fibers DSM and Honeywell produce similar UHMWPE fiber under the trade names of Dyneema® and Spectra respectively.2. and outperforms Zylon and Vectran in flex fatigue and resistance to moisture and UV light. low elongation and homogenous distribution of fibers within the laminate. abrasion. which increases with temperature and load.4 Vectran HT 1. Density (g/cm^3) Tensile Strength (GPa) Specific Strength (Strength / Density) 3. Dyneema® products are often a preferred choice for flexible composites based on these properties. The fiber has good abrasion resistance. while the environmental degradation of PBO or Vectran is less quantified and more difficult to monitor in situ. toughness.15.2. due to its performance over a wide temperature range and flex fatigue resistance. Vectran offers a unique balance of properties in comparison to other high performance fibers. In addition. but performs significantly lower than Dyneema®. Surface Coatings Film coatings. For space related applications polyimide coatings and films.6 Fiber Type Zylon AS 1. Vectran is a liquid crystal polymer having strength and modulus lower than Dyneema® or Zylon but other properties falling between those of Dyneema® and Zylon including: creep.17 For additional information on environmental effects on the performance of Zylon see references 18-22. PVF films such as Tedlar. Zylon fiber is made from rigid-rod chain molecules of PBO. flexible composite laminates can be 5 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp. but have lower mechanical and permeability properties.41 3. Nylon and Urethane coatings offer excellent toughness and flexibility. or on both.2 Vectran UM 1. and UV/visible light.A. Creep may be modeled from existing parameters based on temperature and load conditions11. C. Specific strength and specific modulus is based on the tensile strength and modulus divided by each fiber’s density.
the shear properties of CT composites significantly outperform woven fabrics. Figure 8. seam slippage.3 oz/yd2 to over 20 oz/yd2. Listed below are several classes of implementations using various engineering fibers that are suitable for a wide range of applications. For a comparative strength to the silicone coated woven nylon. and laser enhanced bonding. and Instron clip on extensometers were used.5 oz/yd^2 is included in the table below (Fig. Figure 7. ultrasonic welding. For more rapid testing without the need for tabbed specimens. Pictured during tear testing using Pneumatic/Hydraulic grips. parafoils. B. Compared to silicone coated nylon of similar weight and thickness. balloons. lightweight. The slit tear specimen is 4in by 6in having a 1.3HB UHMWPE Composite). 1 is also a good resource on appropriate tear test methods for airship materials. both specifically developed as airship design criteria. Test Methods Materials were tensile tested using the ASTM D3039M test method and also a non-standard test method for tensile testing. and 4 times higher tear strength.5HB UHMWPE composites have been designed with quasiisotropic properties. has 10 times higher modulus. Example Materials One of the unique characteristics of the CT flexible composite manufacturing method is the ability to produce uniform materials. an ultra-light CT material (CT0. Bollard Grips. and other applications where very thin. while utilizing a wide variety of engineering fibers and coatings. the CT0. Lightweight Flexible Composites Lightweight oriented multidirectional composite laminates may offer a higher performance alternative to nylon or polyester woven materials in applications such as parachutes.4). 8). 7) are often used. . seam distortion. 6 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp. Most of the tensile tests in this paper were conducted using the Bollard grip test method at an approximate strain rate of 30%/min.2. ASTM D3039M utilizes tabbed specimens to relieve gripping stresses caused by mechanical gripping forces. Ref. self-tightening Bollard grips (Fig. The slit tear method is specified by Mil-C-21189 Method 10. Instron Bluehill software. in weights ranging from 0. strong.constructed with seams that are actually stronger than the base materials and are capable of carrying high structural loads for long periods of time without failure. Slit-Tear Specimen (Mil-C-21189 10. Depending on the composite’s design. and similarly FAA-P-8110-2. Pictured during tensile testing with loaded specimen and attached Instron extensometer. heat welding. most standard forms of seaming are suitable for fabrication including sewing. A. adhesive bonding.3HB and CT1. and tear resistant material is required. Instron 5567 and Instron 5568 load frames with appropriate load cells.25in long cut in the center of the specimen (Fig. or creep. but only a single process technology.4. CT’s laminate is 80% stronger.2. V. As a result. While woven fabrics have very little strength in the bias directions. 9). with engineered and multidirectional tailored properties. weighing 0. The Bollard grips show utility for tests up to a few hundred pounds but may not provide optimal gripping for tests reaching higher loads.
Using Bollard grips. these composites have excellent low temperature performance and pressure retention. The theoretical strength of the CT1.3HB conversion efficiency is 146%. tension structures and flexible pressure vessels. Materials of these weights may be utilized for LTA or other inflatable structure applications. Heavyweight Flexible Composites CT’s heavyweight composites may be used in tension structures having high strength.3HB UHMWPE Product Woven Nylon Composite Composite 0. inflatable structures or beams.1 4.7 Thickness (in) 0.2 0. Medium Weight Flexible Composites The properties of medium-weight laminates constructed from Vectran and Aramid fibers are included in the table below (Fig. Examples of these material’s characteristics are included in the table below (Fig 11). low elongation. In addition to low gas permeability.2 Figure 9.2 / 2. Properties of Silicone Coated Woven Nylon and CT Lightweight Composites C. It is likely that the Bollard grips are not sufficient to provide adequate gripping and may cause stress concentration and edge effects at high loads.002 41 Tensile Strength (lbf/in) 48 87 28 Theoretical Strength @ 23°C (lbf/in) -75 146 Conversion Efficiency @ 23°C (%) -116 1670 Modulus ((lbf/in)/(in/in)) 237 2774 2.001 Thickness (in) 0. tear and damage resistant requirements. 10).6 / 2. CT35HB Vectran CT35HB Aramid Product Composite Composite Weight (oz/yd^2) 4.2 Slit Tear Strength @ 23°C / -60°C (lbf) 205 / 229 131 / 125 Figure 10. Examples of potential applications include: large-scale heavy lift airships.9 Strain to Failure (%) 33. The theoretical strength of the CT0.0 3. Silicone Coated CT1. based on fiber density alone. the CT0.5HB UHMWPE Composite. is 75 lbf/in. Tabbed specimens were tested in addition to Bollard grip specimens when the Bollard grip method resulted in low strength results. high conversion efficiency means that the fiber strength is successfully transferred to the strength of the composite. this represents a conversion efficiency of 116%. which is not accounted for.Although there is some strength contribution from coatings and films.8 2. linear stress-strain behavior. In comparison to the tested tensile strength of 87 lbf/in.2 38 Slit Tear Strength (lbf) 26 108 41 Bias Tensile Strength (lbf/in) -87 1670 Bias Modulus ((lbf/in)/(in/in)) -2774 <0. the conversion efficiencies for the 7 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp.3 1.5HB UHMWPE CT0.2 Helium Gas Permeability (L/m2/24hrs) -<0.005 Tensile Strength @ 23°C / -60°C (lbf/in) 523 / 670 587 / 650 Theoretical Strength @ 23°C (lbf/in) 501 546 Conversion Efficiency @ 23°C (%) 104 107 Modulus @ 23°C / -60°C ((lbf/in)/(in/in)) 18951 / 22285 26556 / 28645 Strain to Failure @ 23°C / -60°C (%) 2.006 0. when compared to a tested tensile strength of 41 lbf/in. and/or application requiring multi-axial structural reinforcement. . Properties of CT Vectran and Aramid Medium Weight Composites D. The high conversion efficiencies reflect the excellent transfer of fiber mechanical properties to laminate mechanical properties that allows for predictable and repeatable material elastic properties.002 0.5 Weight (oz/yd^2) 1.3HB UHMWPE composite is 28 lbf/in.
T. Material properties of these materials can be tailored for strength and modulus in multiple arbitrary directions and can be produced in seamless two-dimensional flat or three-dimensional complex curved structures exceeding 40 ft in width and exceeding 100 ft in length.” Composite Structures. M... 2006. A.CT155HB UHMWPE Composite and CT135HB PBO composite are only 75% and 72% respectively.” 3rd AIAA Aviation Technology. Y. 151-155. Y. . 5 Nickol. “Development of High-Specific-Strength Envelope Materials.3 to over 20..0 0. Y. low gas permeability. or creep. References Maekawa. Laminates can be engineered for pressure retention. Lee. 2 Zhai. and 85% for the CT135HB PBO Composite.... Properties of CT UHMWPE and PBO Heavyweight Composites VI. Materials can be joined with seams that are stronger than the base laminate materials and capable of carrying structural loads for extended periods without failure. Maeda. Integration and Operations Conference..” 45th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit. Yoshino.. Acknowledgments The authors thank intern John-Paul Deitz for testing the hundreds of samples in support of this paper.. Ozoroski. Sano. High performance fibers and surface coatings are enabling this technology along with a unique manufacturing process that produces customizable flexible composites with optimum strengths and weights (weights ranging from 0. 2007. 2003. Euler. T. slippage. Integration and Operations Conference.L.9 1618 / 1924 2250 72 72794 / 81682 2.1-4.2 Figure 11. pp.A. environmental resistance and abrasion resistance.2 <0. Kakuta. Kohout...L. T.011 Product Weight (oz/yd^2) Thickness (in) Bollard Grip Method Tensile Strength @ 23°C / -60°C (lbf/in) Theoretical Strength @ 23°C (lbf/in) Conversion Efficiency @ 23°C (%) Modulus @ 23°C / -60°C ((lbf/in)/(in/in)) Strain to Failure @ 23°C / -60°C (%) Tabbed Specimen Method (ASTM D3039) Tensile Strength @ 23°C (lbf/in) Theoretical Strength @ 23°C (lbf/in) Conversion Efficiency @ 23°C (%) 1813 / 2122 2402 75 85820 / 109965 2.016 CT135HB PBO Composite 10. S... Conclusion CT is developing materials to meet the challenges of current and future aerospace applications. 1 8 Copyright © 2009 by Cubic Tech Corp. 3 Komatsu.” 5th AIAA Aviation Technology. Woo. However. K. “Material Challenges for Lighter-Than-Air Systems in High Altitude Applications. C. K.D. CT155HB UHMWPE Composite 13. Sasaki.3 0. “Tear Propagation of a High Performance Airship Envelope Material. 2005.4 2167 2402 90 1934 2250 86 Slit Tear Strength @ 23°C / -60°C (lbf) 313 / 504 250 / 423 Helium Gas Permeability (L/m2/24hrs) <0.. I.” 7th AIAA Aviation Technology. No. tests using the ASTM D3039M method using tabbed specimens resulted in an improvement in conversion efficiency of 90% for the CT155HB UHMWPE Composite. Sept. “High Altitude Long Endurance Air Vehicle Analysis of Alternatives and Technology Requirements Development. 2007.. Kurose. Guynn.. H.1 / 1. Belfast. “Mechanical Property Characterization of Film-Fabric Laminate for Stratospheric Airship Envelope. 4 Kang. Integration and Operations Conference.. M. L.0 / 2. Suh.0 oz/yd2). K. T. W. 75.. Vol.. Shibasaki.
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