AE Unit 5: Composites

Materials testing and the use of composites in aircraft

COMPOSITES OVERVIEW

 

While one group of engineers needs to understand the properties and processes involved in building with metals, another group of engineers needs to know about various composite materials.  Composites are used in many applications from insulation to fuselage construction,  and other internal components.  Over the course of the unit, you’re expected to learn the following

  • What are composite materials, how they are made, and where they are used
  • How to create various composite test samples
  • How to test composites for temperature durability
  • How to use the SSA1000 stress analyzer to test your samples for strength
  • What the implications of different composite material properties are for aerospace engineers

Aerospace vessels need to be made out of materials that are properly durable.  In this unit, you’ll create a variety of composites, and will test their resistance to heat and their overall strength.  As you investigate composite materials, you’ll go through three major steps:

  • STEP 1: Learn about composites and do some strength testing on different composites to learn about structural properties
  • STEP 2: Do some heat tests on different composites to learn about thermal properties of composites
  • STEP 3: Complete the Re-Entry Design Challenge combining your knowledge of composite properties

When you’re all done, you will have investigated a wide range of composites and their various properties. You also will have seen how engineers use composite materials in aerospace applications.

PART 1: STRENGTH TESTING

(20 pts) About 3 days

First, you’ll learn about composites of various kinds and create a variety of composite test samples in different permutations.  These test samples will give us a way to test the strengths of various composites.  You’ll also learn how to use the SSA1000 to test material strengths.

 PART 2: HEAT TESTING

(40 pts) About 2 days

Next, you’ll create other composite samples for the purpose of heat testing.  You’ll design and test different composite designs to develop an understanding of how heat resistance changes with material.

PART 3: RE-ENTRY DESIGN CHALLENGE

(40 pts) About 3 days

Finally, your team is tasked with creating the best possible tile for a new space shuttle.  The tile will need to meet size and cost limits, and must meet strength and heat resistance criteria.  You’ll need an understanding of composites to complete this challenge.

Part 1: Strength Testing

Learn about MISSING TEXT

LHS Composites Reference

To begin, our job starts with an investigation of composite materials and their properties.  You’ll first take some notes on the development and application of different composite materials.  Then, you and your team will build a range of composite test samples that will be used in strength testing with the SSA1000.

GRADING & PROCESS

Take careful notes on the manufacture and types of composite materials

  Build your composite testing samples & let them cure overnight

 Break your test samples in the SSA1000, record and share your data

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your data collection

 

Composite Materials

Building Composites

Breaking Composites

What’s Due In Part 1: Strength Testing

 

  • Composite Notes
  • Build Composites
  • Break Composites
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Strength Testing

  1.   Take careful notes on composites
  2.   Plan and build your composite test samples
  3.  Break your test samples, record and share the data
  4.  Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your test data

Part 2: Heat Testing

Test the thermal properties of various composite materials

LHS Composite Reference

 

Of course the design of planes and other flying vessels needs to be built strong and sturdy.  In addition, when aerospace engineers start designing things that can go to space or go at very high speeds in the atmosphere, they also need to consider the thermal properties of a material. In the case of spaceship re-entry, engineers need to create materials that can withstand very high temperatures.

Our next job in this unit is to look at how composite materials can withstand intense heat.  Just like with the strength testing, we’ll develop a wide range of sample composites, and then we’ll test them to see how long they can withstand intense heat.  Just like with all research, we’ll collect careful data so we can use the results in our future planning.

GRADING & PROCESS

Take careful notes on thermal properties

 Plan and Build your composite samples as a team

 Test the thermal resistance of each of your composite samples and collect your data

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your test data

Thermal Properties

 

Building Composites

Burning Composites

What’s Due In Part 2: Heat Testing

 

  • Thermal Notes
  • Plan & Build
  • Test
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 2: Heat Testing

  1.   Take careful notes on thermal properties of composites
  2.  Plan and build your composite test samples
  3.  Test the heat resistance of each of your composite samples and collect your data
  4.   Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your test data

 

Part 3: Re-Entry Design Challenge

Apply your knowledge of composite properties to design the best heat shield

Re-Entry Design Challenge

Your team is being asked to develop a new heat shield tile for the new space shuttle design.  Because the space shuttle goes up to space and back to Earth repeatedly, it needs to be very durable.  Because take-off and re-entry often sees tiles breaking off the surface of the shuttle and hitting other tiles in the shuttle, you need to design tiles that can withstand a certain about of force.  Also, since the re-entry process generates so much heat, the tiles need to withstand intense heat for a certain amount of time.  Finally, the shuttle will need more than 100,000 tiles to cover its surface completely, so we need to consider the weight and cost of the tiles as well.

For this design challenge, you and your team need to work together to develop  5” x 5” tiles that can be both as strong as possible and as heat resistant as possible. As you design your tiles, you’ll need to consider both strength and thermal criteria as well as cost and weight constraints.  You’ll need to fully document your process with your team, and do some serious trial and error to complete this challenge successfully!

GRADING & PROCESS

 Start your engineering process with your team’s design brief, brainstorming, and planning

 Build and test your tiles to narrow down your ideas to a final solution

 Decide what your final solution will be and make sure you have 2 identical tiles that meet the required parameters

 Do your final testing of your best solution

 Complete the Re-Entry Design Challenge report

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your final heat shield design

 What’s Due In Part 3: Re-Entry Design Challenge

  • Documentation
  • Design
  • Final Tests
  • Challenge Report
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Re-Entry Design Challenge

  1.   Document your team’s engineering design process completely
  2.  Design, build, test, and finalize your tile prototype
  3.  Conduct final tile tests
  4.  Complete the Re-Entry Design Challenge report
  5.  Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your final design

 

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to emphasize engineering as a process of using math and science as a way to inform decision making and solution development.  We look at how different composite structures impact the strength and thermal properties of the materials.  Then, we use the results of those experiments to inform a complex engineering problem as we try to create composite tiles that meet multiple criteria and constraints.

When this unit is done, you should have had a chance to see how composites are developed.  You also will have looked at how strength tests are completed and how thermal tests can be conducted.  Finally, your team will have worked together to tackle the Re-Entry Design Challenge in developing a composite heat shield tile that meets strength, heat, cost, and weight parameters.

Engineering Notebook:

  (Part 1) You should have taken good notes and data on composite strengths

  (Part 2) You should have taken good notes and data on thermal properties

  (Part 3) You should have documented your team’s entire design process

  (Part 3) You should have completed your final Re-Entry Design Challenge report

 

Building & Making:

  (Part 1) You should have worked with your team to plan, build, and test your composite samples for strength testing

  (Part 2) You should have worked with your team to plan, build, and test your thermal properties composite samples

  (Part 3) You should have worked with your team to design, build, and test your heat shield samples

 (Part 3) You should have completed your final heat shield testing

 

Checkpoints & Quizzes:

  (Part 1) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your final strength test data

  (Part 2) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your final heat test data

  (Part 3) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your final tile design and success