Material characterization of active fiber composites for integral twist-actuated rotor blade application
The primary objective of this work was to perform material characterization of the active fiber composite (AFC) actuator system for the Boeing active material rotor (AMR) blade application. The purpose of the AMR was to demonstrate active vibration control in helicopters through integral twist-actuation of the blade. The AFCs were a new structural actuator system consisting of piezoceramic fibers embedded in an epoxy matrix and sandwiched between interdigitated electrodes to enhance actuation performance. These conformable actuators were integrated directly into the blade spar laminate as active plies within the composite structure to perform structural control. Therefore, extensive electromechanical material characterization was required to evaluate AFCs both as actuators and as structural components of the blade. The characterization tests designed to extract important electromechanical properties under simulated blade operating conditions included nominal actuation tests, stress-strain tests and actuation under tensile load tests. This paper presents the test results as well as the comprehensive testing procedure developed to evaluate the relevant properties of the AFCs for structural application. The material characterization tests provided an invaluable insight into the behavior of the AFCs under various electromechanical conditions. The results from this comprehensive material characterization of the AFC actuator system supported the design and operation of the AMR blades scheduled for wind tunnel tests.