Sustainable lightweight structures
Advanced Composite Truss Structures (ACTS)
Spaceframes are recognised as being inherently lightweight with inbuilt redundancy. The 'truss' system does not have pin-ended joints, so it is subject to complex axial, bending, torsion and shear loadings that may not be uniform along the length of the struts. A high proportion of the weight is in the nodes that are traditionally metallic and joined to the strut with bolts, adding further weight.
The Joining Technology Research Centre was a key research partner in NOTS (Nodal Optimisation of Truss Structures), a highly successful DTI CARAD funded project that made a breakthrough in showing the viability of a fully composite load bearing fabricated 2D truss structure for aerospace structural applications using 3D woven reinforcement.
ACTS takes this concept to the next stage, expanding the material options & applications and also the joining technologies for innovative fully composite node elements - key features in progressing a spaceframe technology that is at the leading edge of structural composite innovation.
The aim of this project was to investigate a) node manufacture and b) joining for large 'all composite' truss structures and space frames (3D truss structures) based on 3D weave and 2D aligned fibre reinforcements - two areas that are considered most important in composite space frame technology.
The applicability of this technology is industry wide. This is self evident from the varied partner consortium, which includes Bentley Motors, Network Rail, Airbus UK, Tony Gee and Partners (specialists in rail infrastructure design), NP Aerospace, PIPEX Structural Composites, Composite Integration, CARR Reinforcements, QINETIQ, and Hexcel (composite supplier).
The total project value was £1.86m, of which TSB funded 50% through the Spring 2007 Competition, Collaborative Research and Development. Dr James Broughton, Deputy Head of JTRC, School of Technology, is the Principal Investigator for OBU.
Current work is aimed at delivering a fully composite modular footbridge solution that is cost competitive with traditional steel and timber framework products.