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.
The use of an elastic memory composite member (EMC) as the active element in deployable optical instruments has tremendous potential. Elastic memory composite mechanisms can remove the need for mechanical latches and remove the post deployed microdynamic instabilities associated with them while providing a low shock, controlled deployment. Additionally, elastic memory composite mechanisms are lightweight, simple, and have a very low coefficient of thermal expansion, which are also desirable properties for deployable optical systems. This paper describes an effort that has been done to explore this possibility. A mechanical latching actuator in an existing precision deployable optical testbed was replaced by an EMC self-locking actuator. Feasibility was assessed through a detailed design and fabrication exercise followed by experimental evaluation of a prototype actuator system in the ground-based deployable optics testbed.