The use of smart materials and multifunctional components has the potential to provide enhanced performance, improved economics, and reduced safety concerns for applications ranging from outer space to subterranean. Elastic Memory Composite (EMC) materials, based on shape memory polymers and used to produce multifunctional components and structures, are being developed and qualified for commercial use as deployable components and structures. EMC materials are similar to traditional fiber-reinforced composites except for the use of a thermoset shape memory resin that enables much higher packaging strains than traditional composites without damage to the fibers or the resin. This unique capability is being exploited in the development of very efficient EMC structural components for deployable spacecraft systems as well as capability enhancing components for use in other industries. The present paper is intended primarily to describe the transition of EMC materials as smart structure technologies into viable industrial and commercial products. Specifically, the paper discusses: 1) TEMBO EMC materials for deployable space/aerospace systems, 2) TEMBO EMC resins for terrestrial applications, 3) future generation EMC materials.
A novel shape memory composite material for the fabrication of thin, lightweight deployable mirrors is presented. The material has been evaluated for shape memory performance and dimensional stability. In addition, preliminary efforts have been directed toward the fabrication of lab-scale, replica mirrors. The concept combines a shape memory composite substrate with an electroplated metal reflective surface to provide a thin mirror with the ability to be deformed for packaging with good shape-recovery on deployment and reasonable post-deployed compliance that facilitates active shape control. The shape memory composite substrates are composed of Elastic Memory Composite (EMC) materials with appropriate reinforcements (i.e. fibers, particulates, or nanoreinforcements). The reflective surfaces are composed primarily of electroplated nickel with a variety of surface preparations to promote good adhesion to the composite substrate and provide optical-quality reflectance. Thin (i.e. less than 508 μm or 20 mils), EMC-composite mirrors have been prepared with adhered, electroplated nickel metal surfaces, which are less than 25.4 μm (i.e. 1 mil) thick. A single method of fabrication has been examined; electroplated thin metal deposition on a mandrel followed by subsequent adhesion to an EMC laminate. Investigative results of material fabrication, packaging and deployment testing, and preliminary optical-performance testing are presented.