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Title: Thin-walled composite deployable booms with tape-spring hinges
Author: Mallikarachchi, H. M. Yasitha Chinthaka
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 5331
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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Deployable structures made from ultra-thin composite materials can be folded elastically and are able to self-deploy by releasing the stored strain energy. Their lightness, low cost due to smaller number of components, and friction insensitive behaviour are key attractions for space applications. This dissertation presents a design methodology for lightweight composite booms with multiple tape-spring hinges. The whole process of folding and deployment of the tape-spring hinges under both quasi-static and dynamic loading has been captured in detail through finite element simulations, starting from a micro-mechanical model of the laminate based on the measured geometry and elastic properties of the woven tows. A stress-resultant based six-dimensional failure criterion has been developed for checking if the structure would be damaged. A detailed study of the quasi-static folding and deployment of a tape-spring hinge made from a two-ply plain-weave laminate of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic has been carried out. A particular version of this hinge was constructed and its moment-rotation profile during quasi-static deployment was measured. Folding and deployment simulations of the tape-spring hinge were carried out with the commercial finite element package Abaqus/Explicit, starting from the as-built, unstrained structure. The folding simulation includes the effects of pinching the hinge in the middle to reduce the peak moment required to fold it. The deployment simulation fully captures both the steady-state moment part of the deployment and the final snap back to the deployed configuration. An alternative simulation without pinching the hinge provides an estimate of the maximum moment that could be carried by the hinge during operation. This moment is about double the snap-back moment for the particular hinge design that was considered. The dynamic deployment of a tape-spring hinge boom has been studied both experimentally and by means of detailed finite-element simulations. It has been shown that the deployment of the boom can be divided into three phases: deployment; latching, which may involve buckling of the tape springs and large rotations of the boom; and vibration of the boom in the latched configuration. The second phase is the most critical as the boom can fold backwards and hence interfere with other spacecraft components. A geometric optimisation study was carried out by parameterising the slot geometry in terms of slot length, width and end circle diameter. The stress-resultant based failure criterion was then used to analyse the safety of the structure. The optimisation study was focused on finding a hinge design that can be folded 180 degrees with the shortest possible slot length. Simulations have shown that the strains can be significantly reduced by allowing the end cross-sections to deform freely. Based on the simulations a failure-critical design and a failure-safe design were selected and experimentally verified. The failure-safe optimised design is six times stiffer in torsion, twice stiffer axially and stores two and a half times more strain energy than the previously considered design. Finally, an example of designing a 1 m long self-deployable boom that could be folded around a spacecraft has been presented. The safety of this two-hinge boom has been evaluated during both stowage and dynamic deployment. A safe design that latches without any overshoot was selected and validated by a dynamic deployment experiment.
Supervisor: Pellegrino, Sergio Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Thin woven CFRP ; Micro-mechanical modelling ; Composite failure ; Tape springs ; Self-deployable structures ; Deployment dynamics ; Design optimisation