Aerospace Composite Rewrites Fabric Rules

Ann R. Thryft

February 23, 2012

1 Min Read
Aerospace Composite Rewrites Fabric Rules

An international consortium led by the Stanford University composites pioneer Dr. Stephen Tsai has developed a new type of carbon-fiber composite. The thin-ply, bi-angle, noncrimp fabric, which uses a nonwoven fabric architecture, delivers more than three times the tensile strength of conventional woven carbon-fiber fabrics and resin infusion methods.

The consortium includes Stanford's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chomarat Textiles Industries, Advaero Technologies, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the composite component manufacturer VX Aerospace, and the aerospace carbon-fiber and composite materials maker Hexcel. Materials developed based on this technology will target industries that need lightweight, high-strength structures, especially aerospace manufacturing.


Greg Bowers, co-founder, president, and CEO of Advaero, told us his company has completed initial trials of the new composite. It is produced using Chomarat's newly developed 150 gsm bi-angle, noncrimp carbon fabric, which is infused with resin using Advaero's HVARTM (heated vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding) process. This process is more cost-effective than the energy-intensive high-pressure autoclave ovens conventionally used to produce carbon-fiber composites, Bowers says.

Dr. Ajit Kelkar, professor and chairman of nanoengineering at North Carolina A&T State University's Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, co-invented HVARTM. "Typically, carbon-fiber composites for aerospace applications are very strong in one direction but weak in other directions," he told us. "To balance their strength, they have to be reinforced. That's why composites are manufactured with layers oriented in different directions stacked together. If you don't, the composites will warp and bend."

About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

Sign up for the Design News Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like