Topology optimization of pressure adaptive honeycomb for a morphing flap

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The paper begins with a brief historical overview of pressure adaptive materials and structures. By examining avian anatomy, it is seen that pressure-adaptive structures have been used successfully in the Natural world to hold structural positions for extended periods of time and yet allow for dynamic shape changes from one flight state to the next. More modern pneumatic actuators, including FAA certified autopilot servoactuators are frequently used by aircraft around the world. Pneumatic artificial muscles (PAM) show good promise as aircraft actuators, but follow the traditional model of load concentration and distribution commonly found in aircraft. A new system is proposed which leaves distributed loads distributed and manipulates structures through a distributed actuator. By using Pressure Adaptive Honeycomb (PAH), it is shown that large structural deformations in excess of 50% strains can be achieved while maintaining full structural integrity and enabling secondary flight control mechanisms like flaps. The successful implementation of pressure-adaptive honeycomb in the trailing edge of a wing section sparked the motivation for subsequent research into the optimal topology of the pressure adaptive honeycomb within the trailing edge of a morphing flap. As an input for the optimization two known shapes are required: a desired shape in cruise configuration and a desired shape in landing configuration. In addition, the boundary conditions and load cases (including aerodynamic loads and internal pressure loads) should be specified for each condition. Finally, a set of six design variables is specified relating to the honeycomb and upper skin topology of the morphing flap. A finite-element model of the pressure-adaptive honeycomb structure is developed specifically tailored to generate fast but reliable results for a given combination of external loading, input variables, and boundary conditions. Based on two bench tests it is shown that this model correlates well to experimental results. The optimization process finds the skin and honeycomb topology that minimizes the error between the acquired shape and the desired shape in each configuration