The new frontiers of the research in the astronomic field require the use of more and more advanced high-performance structures. Only an adequate technological innovation of conventional telescopes and radio-telescopes allow to obtain structures able to meet the new specification of the projects.
Besides, technological innovation is founded not only on the identification of more and more sophisticated mechanisms and optical instruments, but also on the development of new materials and manufacturing processes for the entire structure that constitute an instrument such as a telescope or a radio-telescope.
Among these materials, the use of the carbon fibre is highly important. This material, which is already widely used in the aerospace and automotive fields, shall join also the astronomic field for ground instruments.
Thanks to the experience acquired with instruments like ALMA, the industry of composites is now able to guarantee different solutions at relatively low costs that allow the instruments of new generation to move extremely important steps in the development of scientific research.
Not just materials, but also processes, through which the materials are worked and manufactured, are extremely important.
The use of technologies, such as hand lay-up vacuum bag, compression moulding, table rolling of composite tubes, filament winding, poltrusion and Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM), allow to identify the ideal solution both for big dimension objects, such as backup structure, main mirror structure of quadripod legs, and relatively small objects, such as actuators, adjusters system, etc.
The wide choice, concerning the use of composite materials, and their techniques of production, allow the technicians to satisfy the exigencies of astronomers be they addressed to simple control of the weights or of the stiffness of the structures, or to specific thermal behaviour of the piece itself.