Shape Memory Composites Applied to the Construction of a Conformable Racing Car Seat 2008-01-2973
Fiber reinforced, shape memory, polymer matrix, composites have recently been demonstrated in a variety of applications. Once cured, these composites, based on thermoset shape memory resins, have the ability to be semi-permanently deformed from the cured shape at elevated temperatures and then subsequently returned to the original shape. However, the vast majority of the applications demonstrated have made use of very thin composite laminates.
The current research considers composite sandwich panel structures formed from shape memory composite facesheets and a rigid foam core created from shape memory resin. The goal is to investigate the potential deformability in these much more rigid geometries to assess the potential for use in conformable, structural applications. As a demonstration of the potential for such shape memory sandwich structures, and to better understand some of the real application impediments, a shape memory composite racecar-style seat has been molded, which includes integral heaters. Forces required and total amounts of deformation are measured and discussed.
The outcome of this study demonstrates that structural composite sandwich construction can be successfully formed and reformed using shape memory composite technology. Further, the approach was successfully applied to the fabrication of a seat shaped structure which could be adjusted for width and lateral support. However, it is also clear that further development is necessary to fully understand how to predict the required forces, and to enhance the degree of deformation prior to permanent damage to the composite facesheets.