Design and optimization of high-strain, cylindrical composite skins for morphing fuselages

Wesley A. Chapkin, Patrick Walgren, Geoffrey J. Frank, David Ryan Seifert, Darren J. Hartl, Jeffery W. Baur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contrast to morphing wings, which have been intensively studied and demonstrated, relatively little research has focused on morphing fuselages, which are capable of improving agility and range by using the articulating section as an aerodynamic control surface. Herein, we investigate several spring-reinforced cylindrical geometries representational of an articulating fuselage that operate in large-scale bending without buckling. Finite element models analyze design performance under loading and in bending and are compared to experimental prototypes. Axial compression tests are conducted to compute bending work as a function of articulation angle. Strong agreement between model predictions and experimental measurements is observed. Using mechanics-based graphical materials selection, carbon fiber-reinforced polymer composites or lightweight metal alloys are determined to be the most promising materials for successful designs. For the spring-reinforced design space, machined spring-reinforced designs are superior at lower values of articulation work (<25 N⋅m) while wave spring-reinforced designs dominate at high values (>25 N⋅m) for 25° of articulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108395
JournalMaterials and Design
StatePublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Digital image correlation
  • Graphical materials selection
  • Kinematic design
  • Morphing structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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