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17th June 2019, Modena

Windform used in aero-elastic wind tunnel demonstrators

Innovative wind-tunnel demonstrator– AFS project. © PoliMi

Innovative wind-tunnel demonstrator– AFS project. © PoliMi

CRP Technology collaborated with the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology of the Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi) on the construction of parts for the aeroelastic wind tunnel demonstrators for Aeroelastic Flutter Suppression (AFS) and Glamour projects.

The AFS project was launched by PoliMi and the University of Washington to test different active control system technologies aiming to attain Active Flutter Suppression. The Glamour project was focused on technological optimisation and experimental validation of Gust Load Alleviation (GLA) control systems for an advanced Green Regional Aircraft manufactured by Leonardo Aircraft Division.

The contribution of CRP Technology involved the manufacturing of the external aerodynamic segments of the two wind tunnel demonstrators for both projects. The company used 3D printing and carbon-composite Windform XT 2.0 from its range of composite materials for LS, the Windform Top-Line.

Aeroelastic wind-tunnel demonstrator– AFS project. © PoliMi

Aeroelastic wind-tunnel demonstrator – AFS project. © PoliMi

Windform XT 2.0 was also used by CRP Technology to create the horizontal tail of the wind tunnel demonstrator for the AFS project. Aerodynamic features correct and enhance the external shape of the wing and, at the same time, transmit the aerodynamic loads to the internal structure.

3D printing

Prior to professional 3D printing, the aerodynamic sections of the wings were produced by carbon or glass fibre fabrics dry lamination, which were wrapped Styrofoam blocks suitably cut to match the wing’s shape. This manufacturing process required much longer times and yielded lower quality surface finish, the manufacturer explains.

“Professional 3D printing has revolutionised the entire process of construction and verification of the parts allowing the following: faster production speed and possibility of optimizing the internal shape of these aerodynamic sections, allowing to make them as lightweight and stiff as possible.”

Manufacture of aerodynamic parts

Through Selective Laser Sintering provided by CRP Technology, the PoliMi team was able to transfer resources from the construction phase to the design phase, obtaining better optimised components, which had to be lightweight, stiff, with parts characterised by thin layers and with a smooth external surface.

3D printed aerodynamic sectors, assembly phase – GLAMOUR project. © CRP Technology

3D printed aerodynamic sectors, assembly phase – GLAMOUR project. © CRP Technology

The activity of CRP Technology’s 3D Printing department has been focused from the beginning on maximising and achieving the targets required, providing full collaboration to the team of the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology of Politecnico di Milano.

Work began with an accurate analysis of the 3D and 2D files: CRP Technology suggested PoliMi alterations that made it possible to optimise the geometries of the parts, reaching the required target weight and stiffness.

Windform XT 2.0

Windform XT 2.0 replaces the previous formula of Windform XT in the Windform Top-Line family of composite materials. It features improvements in mechanical properties including +8% increase in tensile strength, +22% in tensile modulus, and a +46% increase in elongation at break. These mechanical properties have guaranteed the achievement of the required characteristics, i.e. stiffness, lightness as well as very smooth external surface.

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