Accelerating technology transition has been identified as a key target.
One method to speed new fiber technologies to market, especially for such new fibers as M5® or nanocomposite fibers, would be for DoD to provide a guaranteed initial purchase order if the pilot product meets specified property and price requirements.
In the near term, DoD should provide significant funding to purchase M5 fiber and rapidly evaluate its properties and applications.
Cost reduction has been identified as a key target.
A clearly significant way to reduce fiber costs over the next 10 years is to reduce or modify the aerospace specifications and qualification process. The DoD should review existing and new qualifications and material specification documents and reduce testing and quality requirements where possible.
To reduce acquisition costs, all major DoD programs that use fiber or prepreg should have two qualified sources.
To reduce manufacturing costs in aircraft structures, DoD should invest in manufacturing technology and innovative design concept development. Promising ways to improve dimensional tolerance and reduce processing variability include investment in new continuous process controls that would contribute to controlling fiber structure and purity, prepreg properties such as fiber weight per unit length, and overall property variability.
To reduce manufacturing costs across all DoD applications, DoD should initiate a program with university-industry-government participation. Promising manufacturing and design concepts should be assessed, including vacuum-assist resin transfer molding (VARTM) to replace more costly manufacturing processes. Virtual manufacturing and simulation should play an important role in accelerated insertion of materials and processes into DoD systems. Research in automation using simulation, sensing, and control systems should be pursued to advance this process from prototype to a production-ready process.
Improved understanding has been identified as a key target.
The DoD should take a lead in developing a better design methodology that incorporates variability and stochastic aspects of local properties into lifetime models. DoD personnel should use this improved understanding to develop new design allowables and parameters that prevent overdesign of parts and overspecification of fiber properties.
The DoD should aid in developing a better understanding of new promising technologies in such areas as micron-scale fibers with nanoscale structure and new sizings with the ability to maximize structural and ballistic properties.