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Affordable Reinforced Polymer Composite Structures with Embedded Electrical Interfaces


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite missile structures with incorporated power and signal transporting capability throughout a weapon system and to system subcomponents. These technologies should be affordable and yield increased volumetric efficiency, reduced maintenance requirements, improved reliability, and reduced system weight. Additionally, the technologies should function in operational conditions to include extreme temperatures, humid and corrosive environments, and maneuvering loads. Carbon based conductor technologies are preferred. DESCRIPTION: Modern weapons systems contain power cables, signal wiring, and power buses .These necessary components account for a considerable amount of the total system weight and are vulnerable to damage during production and in service. By incorporating power and signal transporting capability into composite structures, critical volume within the missile airframe will be made available for other functions that will lead to extended range and enhanced lethality. This technology will improve reliability and quality by minimizing connector failure points, decreasing manufacturing cycle times, and reducing part count. Recent advances in electronic materials and nanostructures, allow the possibility of conductor and connector embedment in the CFRPs without degradation of structural performance. The use of carbon based conductors is of particular interest due to their high specific strength and electromotive compatibility with carbon fiber composites. Technical areas like electromagnetic interference shielding, cross-talk susceptibility, interconnects at structural joints, damage tolerance, coefficient of thermal expansion mismatch, and conductor ingress and egress must be addressed for successful transition PHASE I: Demonstrate feasibility of an integrated conductor through fabrication of a cylindrical CFRP composite. Demonstrate conductor capability and structural performance. Estimate weight and cost savings. PHASE II: Develop and fabricate a prototype CFRP composite intermediate ballistic missile representative airframe with newly demonstrated power and signal carrying capability, conductor ingress and egress, and component interconnects. Perform appropriate characterization and testing to validate system functionality. PHASE III: Develop and execute a plan to manufacture, test, and evaluate the prototype developed in Phase II. Additionally, assist in transitioning this technology to the prime(s) contractor. COMMERCIALIZATION: Improved composite manufacturing techniques and electrical interface methods will serve as enabling technologies for automotive, commercial aerospace, infrastructure, other Department of Defense Agencies, etc.
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