Rob Mueller (NASA, Kennedy Space Center) &
Greg Kress (Abaris Training)

"Toughened Composites for Lightweight Space Mining Equipment" (30 minutes)

This presentation will discuss toughened composites for lightweight space mining equipment and aerospace composites applications.  The high specific strength, stiffness, and orthotropic nature of composites make them a great material choice for aerospace structures, due to their high performance in-plane properties.  Composite material’s weakness comes from the layered nature of the laminate, where the brittle characteristic of the resin can cause the through-thickness properties of the laminate suffer from in-service damage.  The “sleeping giant” for composite structures is the long-term effects of minor impact damage on the strength of a composite laminate.  A thorough explanation is given on the mechanisms for damage growth and crack propagations in composite structures, and the methods to toughen composite laminates to provide greater damage tolerance.  Information is presented on the most prevalent methods being utilized today to toughen composites, the test methods to evaluate fracture composite toughness, and the R&D efforts being investigated to provide for improved damage tolerance in the future.

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