Two 61-cm-diameter eight-ply quasi-isotropic IM7/PEEK cylindrical shells were fabricated by automated fiber placement the NASA Langley Research Center using only infrared radiant heat to preheat the substrate and incoming composite uni-tape. The shells were characterized by ultrasonic c-scans for overall consolidation quality, and by optical microscopy and acid digestion for void content. Compression tests were also performed. Although the material used in the study was of generally poor quality due to numerous splits and dry fiber regions, the process was able to achieve a net reduction in void content in the as-placed component. Microscopy of the composite shells revealed well-consolidated, void-free interfaces. The two cylinders were then tested in uni-axial compression in a 1334 kN-capacity hydraulic test machine until buckling occurred. A geometrically nonlinear finite element analysis was conducted, and the differences between the predicted and measured values were 18.0 and 25.8%, respectively. Inclusion of measured imperfections of the cylinder into the analysis is expected to reduce these differences.
Langley Research Center; Marshall Space Flight Center