Flexible Manufacture of Structurally Efficient and Lightweight Metal Structures

E.Y. Chen, D.R. Bice, A.R. Valente
Transition45 Technologies, Inc., US

Keywords: metals, lightweight, flexible manufacturing, sandwich structures

Summary:

The ever-increasing demand for even higher performance yet more affordable lightweight structures for clean energy applications has stressed the importance of designing for the most efficient structural arrangements. Two of the most proven and well-established solutions to obtain a high strength-to-weight ratio have been the use of composite materials and sandwich structures. All-metal sandwich structures offer numerous outstanding properties that allow the designer to tailor features such as weight, strength, stiffness, impact resistance, thermal conductivity, etc. in a structurally efficient manner for diverse commercial and military applications such as building and vehicular structures. The most established type of these sandwich structures is made with directional, periodic stiffeners between solid surface sheets. Characteristic of these structures, however, is the heterogeneity of strength and/or stiffness properties in longitudinal and transverse directions. More innovative and efficient sandwich structure technologies have developed towards lattice truss concepts resulting in newer structural technologies such as Lattice Block Structures and Opencellâ„¢. These engineered materials are not only structurally efficient, but can also be fabricated using cost effective production approaches. In certain cases rapid prototyping for flexible manufacturing can also be employed for one-of-a-kind and/or limited applications.