INEGI innovates in the composite structures production for space application
INEGI and Frezite High Performance have developed lighter and better-performing structural tubes produced through a cheaper process, for integration into satellites and other space applications.
In the last three years, an INEGI experts team contributed to the research, development and validation of new tubular structures with different dimensions and geometries, capable of responding to the aerospace market challenges.
"There is a growing need for lighter structures, capable of withstanding different mechanical loads and atmospheric pressures, which are easy to integrate into the other components and with reduced production costs," explains Rui Marques, INEGI’s project manager. "To meet these requirements, solutions have been created that use composite materials with more than 60% fiberglass or carbon fiber in their composition", he said.
The result of this initiative was three prototypes: a circular tube in fiberglass, with thermal insulation, for application in satellite components; a rectangular carbon fiber tube, capable of dissipating heat, for use in an electronic box; and a circular tube in carbon fiber, with a diameter of only 12mm, also for application in satellites.
In addition to the characteristics of the products developed, the innovation is in the manufacturing process used. A composite structure technology – filament winding – has been used, which makes the production process more automatic and therefore cheaper than the one used in the solutions available in the market.
The INEGI team "supported the development of structures, simulated, developed and optimized the filament winding process, fabricated the demonstrators through this same process and performed the necessary tests to validate the mechanical properties of the prototypes produced", says Rui Marques.
We are talking about the project FilTube, that is co-financed by European funds under the North 2020 and Portugal 2020 programs.