Honors College Thesis


Female Mold Fabrication Process Development with Pre-Impregnated Composite Materials for Application to Sub-Orbital Rockets Public Deposited

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  • The leading edge of a sub-orbital, sounding rocket dictates an aerodynamically optimal profile which is difficult to manufacture. The university level offers no current standard to produce rocket nose cones made with pre-impregnated composites. Of particular interest is the molding technique used to fabricate a nose cone. The focus of this thesis is to discuss the methodology behind the design and realization of a fe- male mold for use with pre-impregnated composites. In specific application to Oregon State University (OSU) American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the scope of the design is limited with the intention to reduce post-processing time, improve the structural strength of the final component, reduce cost, and improve repeatability year-to-year. Background research on nose cone design and composite molding is discussed, and manufacturing and integration processes for both mold and nose cone product are presented. Limitations due to tooling and material availability are considered. Two aerodynamically optimal nose cone profiles are selected to demonstrate multiple techniques by which to manufacture a female mold. Three fe- male mold designs are proposed for use in Oregon State Rocketry (OSR): Primary, Alternate, and Additional. Primary and Alternate molds are designed in four parts to maintain dimensional tolerances required for the nose cone profile. A variant of the alternate female mold and nose cone are manufactured using RenShape, fiberglass, and aramid, and tested to demonstrate producibility and flight performance, respectively. The Additional female mold design is proposed for future development of a mold manufactured with pre-impregnated composites. Fibersim ply simulations are used to verify feasibility. Findings determine a female nose cone mold which includes a shoulder can be student manufactured at OSU. The corresponding nose cone layup within each female mold produces a desirable, flight-ready component.
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