Continuous Composites has announced the conclusion of the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) two-year Wing Structure Design for Manufacturing (WiSDM) contract.
The contract to produce a Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft (LCAA) wing was awarded through Lockheed Martin.
Continuous Composites said that the project focused on a ‘new structural design paradigm when coupled with commensurate materials and manufacturing’.
It was mainly aimed at reducing costs and lead times for ‘attritable airframe structures’.
The wing assembly was printed with the structural carbon fibre spars using the company’s patented Continuous Fiber 3D Printing (CF3D) technology.
Air Force Research Laboratory programme manager Ray Fisher said: “CF3D presents an innovative manufacturing technology that shows great promise to be both low cost and agile to the production rate and responsiveness requirements to realise attritable airframe structures.
“The success of this LCAA project shows great opportunity for additive manufacturing with customised CF3D material solutions that can orient structural fibres optimally. It is especially attractive to avoid expensive tooling in manufacturing aerospace structural parts.”
The final wing assembly was delivered to the USAF for static load testing.
According to Continuous Composites, the fully assembled wing was loaded to 160% of Design Limit Load (DLL).
Continuous Composites CEO Tyler Alvarado said: “This project is one application where CF3D showcases the significant cost reduction and design freedom while exceeding the stringent mechanical properties required for aerospace.”
Recently, AFRL completed the XQ-58A Valkyrie’s sixth flight test and the first release from the internal weapons bay.