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25th July 2019, Fort Collins, CO

CSU rocket team pushes innovation to new heights

CSU rocket team in the Prodigm lab with the filament winding hardware and software used to produce the rocket fuselage. © CSU/ Prodigm

CSU rocket team in the Prodigm lab with the filament winding hardware and software used to produce the rocket fuselage. © CSU/ Prodigm

Dr Marchese founded the Colorado State University (CSU) Intercollegiate Rocket Competition (IREC) team in 2014, with a group of only four students. Today, the 2018-2019 group, co-advised by Dr Guzik, includes 14 students with a passion for pushing rocket innovation to new heights.

The team has been preparing for the 2019 competition by focusing on refining the liquid fuelled motor, advancing the aerodynamic design of the rocket, continuing the use of the innovative honeycomb/fiberglass composite, developing an interesting experimental payload, and successfully implementing active flight controls.

With a payload size of 8.8 pounds and target altitudes of either 10,000 or 30,000 feet above ground level, competing rockets are typically 4 to 8 inches in diameter and 8 to 20 feet long. Multistage rockets and all chemical propulsion types (solid, liquid, and hybrid) are allowed.

Advantages of filament winding

Jeff Bassler, Prodigm’s President, had engaged one of the team members for one of his company’s projects. During their discussions a team member mentioned their challenge of finding an option to replace the current fiberglass fuselage. He explained the advantages of a filament winding for their fuselage application. Prodigm also offered the CSU rocket students his lab facilities, connections for composite materials and industry knowledge. The CSU team quickly agreed to take Prodigm up on the offer.

CSU rocket pre-competition rocket test was held in Colorado. © CSU/ Prodigm

CSU rocket pre-competition rocket test was held in Colorado. © CSU/ Prodigm

In the Prodigm lab, students wound their rocket fuselage using LCWR-1.2 (a specially engineered two-component epoxy winding resin) donated by Lattice Composites and carbon fibres donated by Composites One.

Design

The team designed their rocket fuselage composite laminate makeup using Autodesk Helius Composite. Using Prodigm pattern design software and CNC control platform for filament winding they turned that design into reality. “Filament winding is an ideal manufacturing process for the CSU rocket because it places fibres around the circumference of the tube to produce parts with high strength. Filament winding also provides the capability to use very long continuous fibres to add additional strength and reduce overall lower cost when compared to prepreg composite options,” the company explains.

Working in the Prodigm lab, CSU team members were educated on the filament winding process and the nuances of composite resins and fibres. Prodigm designed an intensely hands-on-lab experience so students would explore small-scale filament-winding technology that would inspire the production of larger rockets or lightweight composite parts in future aerospace roles.

Prior to the competition, students produced several versions of the rocket body for live testing by utilizing supplies/ support from Prodigm and Lattice Composites, and Composite One.

www.colostate.edu

www.prodigm.net

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