Rigidification of Flexible, Inflatable Composite Structures
Small Business Information
Acorn Park, Cambridge, MA, 02140
AbstractHighly-mobile military missions have a need for lightweight, rapidly deployable structures. Advances in inflatable airbeam technology has allowed the rapid deployment of lightweight structures. However, inflatable airbeam technology may not be the optimum solution for long-term facilities, where high durability and low maintenance are extremely important characteristics. Meeting these characteristics will ensure that the structure will not collapse due to inadvertent loss of air pressure. These characteristics are best met with an inflatable structure that remains structurally sound when deflated. A rigidizable inflatable airbeam similar to structures used by NASA in space can provide the desired durability and maintenance levels. The objective of this proposal is to demonstrate the technical feasibility of field rigidization of rapidly deployable inflatable beams. The state-of-the-art for lightweight inflatable rigidizable beams has been advancing for the past several years, primarily for space applications. These beams offer unique advantages for achieving reduced overall mass and packaging volume while providing high structural efficiency. Ultimately, these beams will be used as frames for fabric-skinned structures to provide enhanced durability for long-term deployments.
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