Past aircraft structures have largely resulted from evolutionary designs, established manufacturing methods, simplified analysis of redundant and static structures, and a heavy emphasis on empirical risk mitigation based on the assumption of manned flight. Today, with the advancement in digital design tools, additive manufacturing methods, topological optimization, morphing vehicles, multi-scaled spatial characterization methods, risk estimation and quantification, and rise of autonomous unmanned flight, it is time to embrace a new paradigm in aerospace structures. This presentation will first discuss the evolution of aircraft structures to the current common designs, the established airworthiness approach for experimental aircraft, and drivers for improving composite manufacturing processes. By examining the envisioned capabilities of tomorrow’s military aircraft, it can be seen that the current approaches are insufficient or inappropriate to meet tomorrow’s need. We propose a digital approach that uses tailored risk-based processes to explore new designs, manufacturing processes, and characterization methods. Specifically, we will discuss progress in additive manufacturing of radiation and thermal cured components, topology optimized digital designs of structures, and adaptive composites with embedded logic.
Dr. Baur is a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois. Prior to his appointment at the U of I he was the Principal Engineer within the Composite Branch at the Materials & Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory. There he led a team of researchers in the design, testing, and performance prediction of polymer matrix and ceramic composite composites with application to propulsion, aircraft structures, and advanced munitions.
Dr. Baur worked for the Air Force for 26 years as Division Technical Director, Branch Technical Advisor, Research Leader, Program Manager, and in-house researcher. In the past few years, he was the advocate, architect, principal investigator, and manager for programs in morphing missiles, additive printed air vehicles, and composite manufacturing for experimental aircraft. He enjoyed forming international partnerships with defense allies in India, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – as well as living in the UK for 5 months! He is proud to have made a small contribution to our nation’s future security, to have worked with his dedicated colleagues within AFRL and he looks forward to fully engaging the talented U of I community. As he transitions to the U or I, Dr. Baur plans to remain active in the design, processing, and characterization of multifunctional composites which includes additive printing of structural composites, design of adaptive and topology optimized structures, nano-tailoring of resin-fiber interfaces, microvascular composites with reconfigurable liquid metal antenna, and structurally embedded sensors.