Rapid prototype manufacturing for an advanced composite wing structure
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The Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) requested Team Kinect12 to design a nodal frame manufacturing process for a small airplane wing using rapid prototyping (RP). The final design consists of nine lightweight shell-like modules which are fabricated by an RP machine. The size of the modules was optimized to the capabilities of the RP machine available to the CIC. These modules define the wing surface profile and locate carbon fibre materials within the structure to provide strength against bending and torsion. A carbon fibre rod is held in place by the modules from tip to tip at the quarter-chord for bending strength. Carbon fibre veneers are applied over the frame to resist torsion and make up the wing surface. Internal carbon fibre braces are contoured to the wing surfaces and connect these surfaces to the spar to ensure the flight load is not transferred through the weak RP material. Each module requires twenty hours of manufacturing time in an RP machine , and the total build time for the wing is estimated at 20 minutes. Recommendations are for further weight reduction by removing material from a bulky leading edge section and for geometry changes to crevices in the modules that will assist with the removal of undesirable build-up material after the RP fabrication process. The designed manufacturing process very appropriately utilizes the capabilities of RP, and when compared to traditional methods, provides a structure that can be assembled quickly and easily.