As part of the project, a structural component for an eVTOL air taxi is to be designed, manufactured and tested using 3D weaving technology.
DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
left: Layer-to-Layer fabric, right: AIXY fabric
The pursuit of weight reduction has always been an important goal of all new developments in aerospace, because in this sector in particular, low weight is synonymous with advantages in terms of fuel consumption and emissions, as well as range and payload. This goes hand in hand with better balances in terms of eco-efficiency, economy and competitiveness. For several decades, the share of fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) has been increasing as a substitute for classic, metallic components in all types of flying equipment. To further increase this share, there is an increasing demand for economical and rational technologies in which the fibre composite material can be specifically adapted to the structural component. This is where the novel 3D weaving technology comes in. Especially for solid and complex FRP components, the 3D weaving technology offers the possibility of creating spatially woven fibre structures as fabric preforms, which can be manufactured close to the final contour and are better adapted to the acting loads due to the flexibility in the design of the fabric. Due to the large design possibilities of the 3D fabric weaves, connection points or joints can also be integrated directly into the fabric preform. This allows the inherent lightweight potential of fibre composite construction to be exploited much better for complex and load-bearing structures.
The example of a landing gear component of the "VoloRegion" airtaxi from the Volocopter company will be used to demonstrate the potential of 3D weaving technology to produce highly loaded and lightweight structural components in aircraft. Validation will be carried out both numerically and by means of component testing for the defined operating loads as well as through use in a flying prototype. The successful implementation within the frame of this project can also prove the fundamental suitability of the 3D weaving technology for demanding and load-bearing primary components in other air- and ground-based means of transport. The aim is to be able to demonstrate in this way additional possibilities for reducing emissions, especially in the mobility sector, through consistent and intelligent lightweight construction.
The project consortium consists of the companies Volocopter GmbH in Bruchsal (joint leader), Keim Kunststofftechnik GmbH in Wiernsheim-Pinache, the German Institutes for Textile and Fibre Research in Denkendorf and the Institute for Structures and Structural Technology of the DLR in Stuttgart.
The "VOLARE²" research project was funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics, Labour and Tourism as part of the Invest BW - Part II programme to promote innovation and technology projects.