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11/17/2016 | 2 MINUTE READ

Technical University of Munich uses AnalySwift software for design of composite rotorcraft blades

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The main objective of this project is to gain knowledge during high altitude flight-tests about the performances and the autonomous flight control system.

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The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is leveraging AnalySwift's (North Logan, Utah) VABS software to accelerate the design of composite helicopter rotor blades. TUM has used VABS for a variety of projects, including the Autonomous Rotorcraft for Extreme Altitudes (AREA) research project, in its Institute of Helicopter Technology, which is part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Researchers at TUM with the AREA project used VABS to help in the design of a new rotor blade for a rotary-wing UAV (MTOW 30kg), which can operate at extreme altitudes (up to 9,000 meters). The main objective of this project is to gain knowledge during high altitude flight-tests about the performances and the autonomous flight control system. A secondary objective is to discover possible application scenarios such as environmental monitoring and search and rescue. According to the researchers, these types of rotary UAVS have been previously unavailable, due in part to several design challenges.

“The AREA rotor blade was completely designed, built and tested at the Institute of Helicopter Technology at the Technical University of Munich,” says Tobias Pflumm, PhD student at TUM. “The use of VABS has been a major part of my work on the design of helicopter blades. With VABS, the determined sectional center of mass, shear center, stiffness and mass properties were fed back to the elastic beam CAMRAD II helicopter model of the UAV. The resulting sectional loads were transformed back into VABS to examine corresponding strains and stresses within the material frame for the application of composite failure criteria.”

“The preliminary design with VABS was followed by a detailed design of sub-components, as well as the design of the rotor blade’s molds and construction documents,” says Pflumm. “To ensure safe operations appropriate test procedures such as computer tomography, three-point bending test of the homogeneous blade section, a pure tensile test to examine the bearing laminate strength as well as a combined load case with axial and flap loading and a pull out test of the balance chamber were performed. Last but not least, an analysis of the rotor blade eigenfrequencies was conducted with accelerometers.”

“We have worked with Technical University of Munich for several years now and are pleased they selected VABS to assist in their composite blade simulation,” says Allan Wood, president and CEO of AnalySwift. “TUM is conducting exciting research to address the unique challenges of designing a composite rotor blade meant for high-altitude environments.” 


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