Abstract: The applications of composite materials within the aviation industry has been increasing at a rapid pace. However, the growing applications of composite materials have also led to growing demand for more tooling to support its manufacturing processes. Tooling and tooling maintenance represents a large portion of the composite manufacturing process and cost. Therefore, the industry’s adaptability to new techniques for fabricating high quality tools quickly and inexpensively will play a crucial role in composite material’s growing popularity in the aviation industry. One popular tool fabrication technique currently being developed involves additive manufacturing such as 3D printing. Although additive manufacturing and 3D printing are not entirely new concepts, the technique has been gaining popularity due to its ability to quickly fabricate components, maintain low material waste, and low cost. In this study, a team of Purdue University School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT) faculty and students investigated the effectiveness of a 3D printed composite compression mold. A 3D printed composite compression mold was fabricated by 3D scanning a steel valve cover of an aircraft reciprocating engine. The 3D printed composite compression mold was used to fabricate carbon fiber versions of the aircraft reciprocating engine valve cover. The 3D printed composite compression mold was evaluated for its performance, durability, and dimensional stability while the fabricated carbon fiber valve covers were evaluated for its accuracy and quality. The results and data gathered from this study will determine the effectiveness of the 3D printed composite compression mold in a mass production environment and provide valuable information for future understanding, improvements, and design considerations of 3D printed composite molds.
Abstract: The unmanned aerial system (UAS) industry is growing at a rapid pace. This growth has increased the demand for low cost, custom made and high strength unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The area of most growth is in the area of 25 kg to 200 kg vehicles. Vehicles this size are beyond the size and scope of simple wood and fabric designs commonly found in hobbyist aircraft. These high end vehicles require stronger materials to complete their mission. Traditional aircraft construction materials such as aluminum are difficult to use without machining or advanced computer controlled tooling. However, by using general aviation composite aircraft homebuilding techniques and materials, a large scale UAV can be constructed cheaply and easily. Furthermore, these techniques could be used to easily manufacture cost made composite shapes and airfoils that would be cost prohibitive when using metals. These homebuilt aircraft techniques are being demonstrated by the researchers in the construction of a 75 kg aircraft.
Abstract: In composite manufacturing, the fabrication of tooling and tooling maintenance contributes to a large portion of the total cost. However, as the applications of composite materials continue to increase, there is also a growing demand for more tooling. The demand for more tooling places heavy emphasis on the industry’s ability to fabricate high quality tools while maintaining the tool’s cost effectiveness. One of the popular techniques of tool fabrication currently being developed utilizes additive manufacturing technology known as 3D printing. The popularity of 3D printing is due to 3D printing’s ability to maintain low material waste, low cost, and quick fabrication time. In this study, a team of Purdue University School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT) faculty and students investigated the effectiveness of a 3D printed composite mold. A steel valve cover from an aircraft reciprocating engine was modeled utilizing 3D scanning and computer-aided design (CAD) to create a 3D printed composite mold. The mold was used to fabricate carbon fiber versions of the aircraft reciprocating engine valve cover. The carbon fiber valve covers were evaluated for dimensional accuracy and quality while the 3D printed composite mold was evaluated for durability and dimensional stability. The data collected from this study provided valuable information in the understanding of 3D printed composite molds, potential improvements for the molds, and considerations for future tooling design.
Abstract: As composite materials continue to gain popularity in the aerospace industry; large airframe sections made out of composite materials are becoming the standard for aerospace manufacturers. However, the heavy utilization of these composite materials also increases the importance of the recycling of these composite materials. A team of Purdue University School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT) faculty and students have partnered to investigate the characteristics of 3D printed recycled carbon fiber. A prototype of a 3D printed recycled carbon fiber part was provided by an industry partner and different sections of the prototype were used to create specimens. A furnace was utilized in order to remove the polymer from the specimens and the specimen’s fiber content and fiber length was calculated from the remaining fibers. A differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) test was also conducted on the 3D printed recycled carbon fiber prototype in order to determine the prototype’s degree of cure at different locations. The data collected from this study provided valuable information in the process improvement and understanding of 3D printed recycled carbon fiber.