The purpose of this research is to develop a method to create carbon fiber composites for use in origami-based antennae design through the selective stiffening of carbon fibers. Carbon fiber composites have often been used in manufacturing due to their light weight, yet high stiffness and tensile strength. Typically, this is achieved by reinforcing dry carbon fibers with epoxy, creating stiff, customized, complex surfaces. The use of carbon fiber composites in antenna design is encouraging for the same reasons, though with the added benefit of being non-conductive and antiferromagnetic. In origami-based antennae, a primary drawback of using carbon fiber panels is that their high stiffness makes it difficult to fold without cutting and using rigid body hinges. This research seeks to understand the following question: How can epoxy be selectively applied to dry carbon fibers to create an integrated carbon fiber composite that exhibits both flexibility along hinge lines and stiffness across panel surfaces? Methods produced from this research utilize the flexibility of a dry carbon fiber mesh to create hinges. These hinges have been integrated into the antenna panels by applying epoxy everywhere except along the specified hinge lines of the dry carbon fibers. Two methods have been developed for the selective application of epoxy. In the first method, wax is applied along hinge lines to obstruct the flow of epoxy during compression and curing. The wax is later melted out. In the second method, epoxy is applied and compressed everywhere but along the hinge lines. By using a thin enough layer of epoxy, the epoxy does not flow into the hinge area and only cures in panel locations. Both methods demonstrate the feasibility of using carbon fiber composites in antenna design.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Format: In Person
SESSION B (10:45AM-12:15PM)
Area of Research: Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Larry Howell