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The hybrid nose cone fairing is designed to utilize a flyaway additively manufactured substructure to support the fiberglass skins during the fabrication process and stiffen the flyaway part. These images show various stages of the fabrication process.
This project seeks to develop and demonstrate the ability to fabricate a polymer-based fairing structure using an additively manufactured core without the need for tooling, that acts as the tool for layup of the composite skins that meets all flight requirements while preparing a pathway for part qualification.
For flight test and/or singular repairs, additive manufacturing (AM) has proven invaluable for fast and relatively inexpensive substitutions versus traditional manufacturing. This project addresses the reduction of lead times and cost savings offered by AM in a broader application space by reducing the nonrecurring expenses of point design and developing a capability for part families.
This project plans to transition point design production of AM aircraft fairings into a family of parts solution. The focus is on the hybrid AM approach of composite sandwich panels that could lead to production of aircraft semi-structural fairings without the need for tooling. In this approach, the underlying fused deposition modeling (FDM) structure and printed Ultem 9085 core act as the tool for layup of the composite skins, reducing the tooling costs, minimizing the touch labor from layup and cure, and ultimately reducing the manufacturing span time and the overall cost of semi-structural fairings. This approach is a game changer for the aerospace industry and has the potential to significantly reduce costs for Air Force flight platforms.
The focus of this project is on B-52 pylon fairings as demonstration articles. The design and development of the hybrid approach includes choosing fairings and related parts where sustainment issues exist; identifying flight requirements for these parts; modeling to demonstrate adequate design details for the hybrid composite panels to withstand the flight requirements; fabricating test coupons; performing mechanical and environmental testing to verify part property and performance requirements; and applying AM capabilities to produce and test flight worthy composite fairings. The lessons learned from the B-52 pylon fairing family of parts are then to be transitioned to a larger part family set of composite sandwich panel aircraft fairings.