Cornerstone Research Group Inc. (CRG) has developed and demonstrated a composite structural solution called
reflexive composites for aerospace applications featuring CRG's healable shape memory polymer (SMP) matrix. In
reflexive composites, an integrated structural health monitoring (SHM) system autonomously monitors the structural
health of composite aerospace structures, while integrated intelligent controls monitor data from the SHM system to
characterize damage and initiate healing when damage is detected. Development of next generation intelligent
controls for reflexive composites were initiated for the purpose of integrating prognostic health monitoring
capabilities into the reflexive composite structural solution.
Initial efforts involved data generation through physical inspections and mechanical testing. Compression after
impact (CAI) testing was conducted on composite-reinforced shape memory polymer samples to induce damage and
investigate the effectiveness of matrix healing on mechanical performance. Non-destructive evaluation (NDE)
techniques were employed to observe and characterize material damage. Restoration of mechanical performance
was demonstrated through healing, while NDE data showed location and size of damage and verified mitigation of
damage post-healing. Data generated was used in the development of next generation reflexive controls software.
Data output from the intelligent controls could serve as input to Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM)
systems and Integrated Resilient Aircraft Controls (IRAC). Reflexive composite technology has the ability to
reduce maintenance required on composite structures through healing, offering potential to significantly extend
service life of aerospace vehicles and reduce operating and lifecycle costs.