AFP Primary Structure For Sounding Rockets (ATEK)

Automated fibre placement (AFP) has been used to manufacture a sounding rocket primary structure comprised of carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic (CF-PEEK). Unlike many contemporary thermoplastic parts produced using AFP technology, this structure did not require a postconsolidation process to ensure its structural integrity. This single-step (in-situ) manufacturing method has long been a goal for the thermoplastic community, as it eliminates expensive and time-consuming vacuum-bagging processes. The manufacturing technology used to produce this component also offers a significant advantage over winding processes, where roving intersections lead to fibre undulations and hence reduced stiffness and strength. Instead, excellent geometrical tolerances and inter-ply consolidation quality were achieved, together with superior thermomechanical properties, using a tailored anisotropic laminate lay-up. Operational loads are transferred to the structure via HI-LOK screw rivets.

Qualification testing under compression, bending and shear conditions were successfully completed in 2018. With an imminent launch date as part of the DLR ATEK mission (VSB-30), this component represents the first generation of in-situ AFP-produced primary structures used in real flight applications.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Structures and Design

Sebastian Nowotny · E-Mail: ·