Experimental Determination of Material Properties for Inflatable Aeroshell Structures

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Hutchings, Allison L..
Braun, Robert D.
Masuyama, Kento
Welch, Joseph V.
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As part of a deployable aeroshell development effort, system design, materials evaluation, and analysis methods are under investigation. One specific objective is to validate finite element analysis techniques used to predict the deformation and stress fields of aeroshell inflatable structures under aerodynamic loads. In this paper, we discuss the results of an experimental mechanics study conducted to ensure that the material inputs to the finite element models accurately predict the load elongation characteristics of the coated woven fabric materials used in deployable aeroshells. These coated woven fabrics exhibit some unique behaviors under load that make the establishment of a common set of test protocols difficult. The stiffness of a woven fabric material will be influenced by its biaxial load state. Uniaxial strip tensile testing although quick and informative, may not accurately capture the needed structural model inputs. Woven fabrics, when loaded in the bias direction relative to the warp and fill axes, have a resultant stiffness that is quite low as compared with the warp and fill directional stiffness. We evaluate the experimental results from two load versus elongation test devices. Test method recommendations are made based on the relevance and accuracy of these devices. Experimental work is conducted on a sample set of materials, consisting of four fabrics of varying stiffness and strength. The building blocks of a mechanical property database for future aeroshell design efforts are constructed.
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