This investigation targeted the development of flexible materials that when combined with mechanized structures can enable large rigid body deformations of aircraft structures while maintaining its aerodynamic shape. The solution presented in this work focuses on determining the distribution of material properties to design such a skin using topology optimization techniques. The matrix material selected in this research is a representative Shape Memory Polymer (SMP), which is embedded with a reinforcing fiber. The fiber plays a dual role in that in addition to serving as a reinforcing element it also provides the means to activate the material response (e.g., changing cross link density) via resistive heating. In depth heat transfer analysis and experiments were conducted to understand power requirements and minimum spacing of the fibers to activate the desired material response.

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