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Micromechanical Design Tool for Innovative Lightweight Composite Sandwich…

Award Information

Department of Defense
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / STTR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Materials Research & Design
300 East Swedesford Road Wayne, PA 19087-1858
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Micromechanical Design Tool for Innovative Lightweight Composite Sandwich Structures
Agency / Branch: DOD / NAVY
Contract: N68335-11-C-0149
Award Amount: $99,888.00


Existing Navy aircraft create significant design challenges because aerodynamics require complex shaped contours, while structural efficiency leads to lightweight, strong composite sandwiches for load bearing components. The structures employ high strength graphite/epoxy face sheets over honeycomb cores. Honeycomb cores, however, are difficult to form into doubly-curved shells and are prone to water ingress. In order to tailor their properties it is necessary to splice sections from different billets, adding costs. Honeycomb cores offer limited bond area and are prone to delaminations that are difficult to inspect and repair. An alternative core employs aerospace-grade polymer foam that is reinforced with pultruded unidirectional graphite/epoxy pins. Since the pins can be rapidly inserted via robotic fabrication it is possible to machine unreinforced core to complex contours and insert pins for tailored stiffness and strength. Reinforced foam cores provide more bond area and are less susceptible to water infiltration. In order for aircraft structures to capitalize on benefits of pin reinforced foam cores, it is necessary that accurate design tools are available. Recently Materials Research & Design (MR & D) and the University of Maryland (UM) have been assessing the structural behavior of pin reinforced cores under separately funded programs. MR & D, under Army funding provided by AEC, is pursuing a micromechanics-based design tool. UM, under a Navy grant, is using specialized experimental methods to measure deformations, and developing detailed finite element models of pin reinforced foam cores. This proposed STTR effort seeks to combine the two approaches to develop a reinforced foam core design tool that can be applied to existing and future aircraft structures. When developed and verified, the design tool will enable structural engineers to specify and fabricate complex shaped sandwich structures with tailored properties. This will lead to more structurally efficient, lower cost, and durable composite airframes.

Principal Investigator:

Kent Buesking
(610) 964-6130

Business Contact:

Kent Buesking
(610) 964-6130
Small Business Information at Submission:

Materials Research & Design
300 E. Swedesford Rd Wayne, PA -

EIN/Tax ID: 232839876
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Research Institution Information:
University of Maryland
2181 Glenn L. Martin Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-
Contact: Hugh A. Bruck
Contact Phone: (301) 405-2410