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AE 590 Seminar: Thin Fiber Reinforced Polymer Shells for Lightweight Adaptable Structures

Event Type
Department of Aerospace Engineering
wifi event
Apr 26, 2021   4:00 - 5:00 pm  
Dr. Paolo Ermanni | Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, Composite Materials and Adaptive Structures Lab, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
Courtney McLearin
Originating Calendar
Aerospace Engineering Seminars

Fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) show outstanding specific stiffness and strength with regard to applications in high performance lightweight structures. Furthermore, the combination of anisotropic properties and multilayer arrangement embraces a vast design space, which allows realizing amazing structural features, such as concurrently fulfilling conflicting requirements in terms of load-carrying capabilities and selective deformability for shape adaptation and reconfiguration purposes.


The talk is introducing and discussing the mechanical behavior and the potential of very thin composite shells made from continuously fiber reinforced Polyether ether ketone (PEEK). Those composite materials are capable to withstand large bending curvatures without failure and are therefore pre-destined for applications, which require high degree of deformability for shape adaptation and deployment purposes, but also ultra-lightweight design solutions combined with sufficient rigidity to ensure functionality of the deployed system. The talk will address the investigations carried-out at ETH to characterize and describe the influence of the non-linear mechanical response of the carbon fiber, of the matrix type and of the shell thickness on the bending failure behavior of the composite shell, also discussing the applicability of thin fiber reinforced PEEK shells in selected biomedical and space systems. 


Paolo Ermanni has been a full professor in Composite Materials and Adaptive Structures at ETH Zurich since 2003. He holds a master degree in Mechanical Engineering and a doctoral degree from ETH Zurich. His dissertation was focusing on novel process technologies for highly integrated aircraft composite structures and carried out in close collaboration with Dornier, Friedrichshafen (D). He spent more than five years at Airbus in Hamburg (D) as a senior engineer and later on, as a project manager, mainly dealing with structural and technological challenges related to the realisation of a second generation of civil supersonic aircraft. In 1997 he took on a new position as a manager at A.T. Kearney in Milan (I). He was appointed associate professor at ETH Zurich in 1998.


Paolo Ermanni’s research is inspired by real-world engineering problems and driven by the ambition to realize highly efficient and reliable multi-functional composite structures. Research approach is bridging material science and engineering, covering engineering design, structural mechanics and processing of composite materials. Current research interests include shape adaptation for morphing and reconfigurable systems, composite metamaterials, advanced processing routes for high performance thermoplastic composites and additive manufacturing of adaptive and composite materials.

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