Continuous Composites, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which specializes in advanced composites and additive manufacturing solutions, has announced it has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to demonstrate its patented Continuous Fiber 3D Printing (CF3D®) manufacturing process for a Department of Defense (DoD) multifunctional structural composite application through collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The SBIR topic focuses on attritable structures, engines and sensors of autonomous unmanned aerial systems and space systems.
Accelerating change while increasing complexity, unpredictability and mass – a primary objective of the United States Air Force Science and Technology Strategy – is hampered by aerospace composite manufacturing techniques, which require significant manufacturing time by a skilled workforce. Continuous Composites’ CF3D® technology is an automated manufacturing solution that significantly reduces cost, weight and lead time while opening new capabilities for complex structural solutions. Its capabilities to introduce low-cost, topology optimized structures directly align with Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology/Platform (LCAAT/P) initiatives.
The primary technical objectives of this contract are to fabricate an organically integrated wing spar and rib configuration into a single component, resulting in a completely unitized wing frame. The design for the topology optimized wing structure will be generated using a disruptive AI software solution, Generative Design, in collaboration with the Advanced Structural Concepts division in the Aerospace Systems Directorate of AFRL. Design inputs include CF3D’s print capabilities combined with the mechanical properties of high-performance thermoset resins and continuous carbon fiber. The CF3D® printed, unitized frame will be assembled with composite wing skins, resulting in a full-scale wing structure for an unmanned aircraft. A static wing test will be performed by AFRL to evaluate performance, and Continuous Composites will document process data that will be compared to more traditional fabrication and assembly processes.
For more information, visit www.continuouscomposites.com.