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Composites

TeXtreme materials go to Mars

Materials play a major role in suppressing microcracking.

4th May 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Boras, Sweden,

Transport/​Aerospace

TeXtreme spread tow carbon fabrics and UD tapes were extensively employed in the construction of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which on April 30th carried out its fourth flight on Mars and has had its mission extended for a month.

Ingenuity achieved all of the main goals of its mission in its first three flights and on the fourth was able to fly further and faster than ever before – a distance of 266 metres in under two minutes at a top speed of 13 kilometres per hour.

Ingenuity will now travel alongside Perseverance, capturing aerial images that could help identify potential routes and scientifically interesting areas.

TeXtreme materials, produced by Oxeon of Boras, Sweden, were used in the propeller blades, the solar panel substrate and parts of the exterior of the helicopter and were chosen by the engineering team at NASA/JPL/AeroVironment due to their ultralight weight and thinness.

The unique fibre architecture of TeXtreme not only provides better options for weight savings and laminate thickness optimisation that is often desired in propeller blades and other UAV applications, but also plays a major role in suppressing microcracking and subsequent composite failure due to the so-called “thin-ply effect”, its manufacturer says.

Large temperature variations translate to big mechanical loads on any exposed composite structure. The climate on Mars is extreme, exposing the composite parts on Ingenuity to these high loads, but the application of TeXtreme significantly reduces the risk of the appearance of microcracks and leads to longer-lasting parts.

“We were honoured when TeXtreme was selected for the Mars helicopter, and it has been very encouraging to follow its development over the years,” said Henrik Blycker, co-founder and CEO of Oxeon. “Seeing the live broadcast of the flight team at NASA when the data from the very first flight was down-linked was a true historic moment in our company history.”

www.textreme.com

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