Year of Publication

2005

Document Type

Thesis

College

Engineering

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Suzanne W. Smith

Abstract

Ultra-lightweight thermoformed stiffened structures are emerging as a viable option for spacecraft applications due to their advantage over inflatable structures. Although pressurization may be used for deployment, constant pressure is not required to maintain stiffness. However, thermoformed stiffening features are often locally nonlinear in their behavior under loading. This thesis has three aspects: 1) to understand stiffness properties of a thermoformed stiffened ultra-lightweight panel, 2) to develop finite element models using a phased-verification approach and 3) to verify panel response to dynamic loading. This thesis demonstrates that conventional static and dynamic testing principles can be applied to test ultra-lightweight thermoformed stiffened structures. Another contribution of this thesis is by evaluating the stiffness properties of different stiffener configurations. Finally, the procedure used in this thesis could be adapted in the study of similar ultra-lightweight thermoformed stiffened spacecraft structures.

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