Composite Materials: How Did they Become so Popular on UAV Industry?
How did composite material become so popular on Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV) industry? In the world of UAV, the composite materials are the essential component due to the specific properties and low weight, the designing and manufacturing an UAV with the composite materials become a core factor affecting the durability and endurance of UAV.
Advantages of Composite Materials for Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles:
Excellent Mechanical Properties:
Compared with traditional metal materials, composite materials have the characteristics of high specific strength and specific stiffness, small thermal expansion coefficient, anti-fatigue ability and anti-vibration ability. It can be used in UAV structure to reduce weight. 25% ~ 30%. Resin-based composite materials have many advantages such as light weight, complicated structure, easy design, large design space, high specific strength and specific stiffness, and small thermal expansion coefficient.
The composite materials has really good Designablility, they can be combined with different type of materials optimally according to mixed design requirements such as the strength and stiffness of the UAV without changing the weight of the structure, especially for those fixed wing UAV, the wing and fuselage fusion structure require high strength, extremely low dimensional tolerance, and consistency.
High specific strength modulus of composite materials is often used in the design of UAV composite structures. It is mainly composed of a combination of good mechanical properties of reinforcing materials (carbon fiber, glass fiber, etc.) and bonding of base materials (resins).
Compared to metal:
Compared with metal, the weight of aluminum alloy is low, depending on the percentage of aluminum mixed, the density is generally about 2.2-2.8g/cm^3, the tensile strength is about 300MPa, and the elastic modulus and rigidity are very low. Aluminum itself is a material that is easily corroded, but aluminum alloy has good corrosion resistance, and it can form an oxide film in the air to prevent further corrosion. However, the carbon fiber composite material has a density of only 1.6g/cm^3, which is much lower than any of the metal material, but the composite material can reach 2,410 MPa strength! Also it is shock-resistant, high-temperature resistant, low-temperature resistant, and low in thermal expansion coefficient, which is superior to aluminum alloy.