Deployable Soft Composite Structures

Deployable Soft Composite Structures. Wei Wang et al (2016). Deployable structure composed of smart materials based actuators can reconcile its inherently conflicting requirements of low mass, good shape adaptability, and high load-bearing capability. This work describes the fabrication of deployable structures using smart soft composite actuators combining a soft matrix with variable stiffness properties and hinge-like movement through a rigid skeleton. The hinge actuator has the advantage of being simple to fabricate, inexpensive, lightweight and simple to actuate. This basic actuator can then be used to form modules capable of different types of deformations, which can then be assembled into deployable structures. The design of deployable structures is based on three principles: design of basic hinge actuators, assembly of modules and assembly of modules into large-scale deployable structures. Various deployable structures such as a segmented triangular mast, a planar structure comprised of single-loop hexagonal modules and a ring structure comprised of single-loop quadrilateral modules were designed and fabricated to verify this approach. Finally, a prototype for a deployable mirror was developed by attaching a foldable reflective membrane to the designed ring structure and its functionality was tested by using it to reflect sunlight onto to a small-scale solar panel.