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Design and fabrication of an aircraft static aeroelastic model based on rapid prototyping

Chao Wang (School of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China and China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center, Mianyang, China)
Guofu Yin (School of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China)
Zhengyu Zhang (China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center, Mianyang, China)
Shuiliang Wang (Southwest University of Science and Technology, Mianyang, China)
Tao Zhao (Southwest University of Science and Technology, Mianyang, China)
Yan Sun (State Key Laboratory for Aerodynamics, China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center, Mianyang, China)
Dangguo Yang (State Key Laboratory for Aerodynamics, China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center, Mianyang, China)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 19 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a novel method for developing static aeroelastic models based on rapid prototyping for wind tunnel testing.

Design/methodology/approach

A metal frame and resin covers are applied to a static aeroelastic wind tunnel model, which uses the difference of metal and resin to achieve desired stiffness distribution by the stiffness similarity principle. The metal frame is made by traditional machining, and resin covers are formed by stereolithgraphy. As demonstrated by wind tunnel testing and stiffness measurement, the novel method of design and fabrication of the static aeroelastic model based on stereolithgraphy is practical and feasible, and, compared with that of the traditional static elastic model, is prospective due to its lower costs and shorter period for its design and production, as well as avoiding additional stiffness caused by outer filler.

Findings

This method for developing static aeroelastic wind tunnel model with a metal frame and resin covers is feasible, especially for aeroelastic wind tunnel models with complex external aerodynamic shape, which could be accurately constructed based on rapid prototypes in a shorter time with a much lower cost. The developed static aeroelastic aircraft model with a high aspect ratio shows its stiffness distribution in agreement with the design goals, and it is kept in a good condition through the wind tunnel testing at a Mach number ranging from 0.4 to 0.65.

Research limitations/implications

The contact stiffness between the metal frame and resin covers is difficult to calculate accurately even by using finite element analysis; in addition, the manufacturing errors have some effects on the stiffness distribution of aeroelastic models, especially for small-size models.

Originality/value

The design, fabrication and ground testing of aircraft static aeroelastic models presented here provide accurate stiffness and shape stimulation in a cheaper and sooner way compared with that of traditional aeroelastic models. The ground stiffness measurement uses the photogrammetry, which can provide quick, and precise, evaluation of the actual stiffness distribution of a static aeroelastic model. This study, therefore, expands the applications of rapid prototyping on wind tunnel model fabrication, especially for the practical static aeroelastic wind tunnel tests.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are much grateful to Pro Li Dichen and Pro Liang Jin from Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, for many helpful advices on the development of the static aeroelastic wind tunnel model. The authors also feel thankful to Xi’an Jiaotong University for giving much help in model manufacturing and ground stiffness testing. High-speed Aerodynamic Institute of China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center afforded experimental apparatuses, and the researched work was supported by the State Natural Sciences Foundation, to which we owe great gratitude.

Citation

Wang, C., Yin, G., Zhang, Z., Wang, S., Zhao, T., Sun, Y. and Yang, D. (2015), "Design and fabrication of an aircraft static aeroelastic model based on rapid prototyping", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 34-42. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-11-2012-0099

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited