Grid stiffened panels promise increased damage tolerance with reduced weight. Recent progress in automated manufacturing of composites has made it possible to produce such panels at low cost and thus has made them a competitive alternative to traditional skin-stiffened or sandwich panels. Fuselage skin panels typical of a 150 passenger aircraft were designed using an iterative process combining finite element models and local special purpose analysis methods. 40 cm by 30 cm panels, representing the final design, were fabricated using vacuum assisted resin transfer moulding. Pristine and impact damaged panels were tested in compression to failure. A progressive failure model was used to predict the extent and type of damage during impact. It was then combined with the global finite element model to obtain residual strength predictions. Analytical predictions were very close to test results. The fabrication method showed good quality and consistency and, when automated, can be used for production.
- Grid structures
- Impact damage