Title : Study of Glass Fiber Aramid Honeycomb Sandwich Material for Small-scale Aircrafts using Low-cost manufacturing techniques.
Research on structural design concepts and structural optimization for aerospace vehicles typically focuses on large vehicles produced by major aerospace companies. However, the results are often of only limited benefit for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) or start-up companies, that are developing drones or small-scale flight demonstrators. Such companies typically lack the sophisticated analysis/optimization software and manufacturing capabilities that are available at larger companies for producing high-performance structural components. Moreover, SMEs and start-ups typically operate under a higher budget and timing pressure. In consequence, the optima for low-weight/low-cost manufacturing of large vehicle structures produced by large companies, cannot directly be transferred to small vehicles produced by SMEs/start-ups. The sandwich type of construction is used in various applications due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and its capability to resist diagonal shear. Therefore, this paper will investigate sandwich construction for small-scale vehicles when using simple manufacturing techniques like hand layup and vacuum infusion. Following the investigation is the manufacturing and mechanical testing of the fabricated material specimens. The mechanical tests include bending (sandwich) and tensile (facesheet) tests. After the qualitative analysis, the figures of merit of this trade-off study are to be investigated on a quantitative basis, and include structural mass for a given load, manufacturing costs and manufacturing time involved in fabrication of a simple 3D geometry (for example: a beam) with the tested material. The focus of the study is placed on flight vehicles with low aspect-ratios, representative for high-performance aircraft geometries, and glass fiber-reinforced composite facesheets with aramid honeycomb core.