Application of Composite Materials in UAV structure

At present, composite materials are more and more used in the structure of UAV, such as polyacrylonitrile-based carbon fiber is widely used as the shell of UAV. The main load-bearing structure of medium and large UAV is metal, the rest is composite, small and medium-sized UAV uses carbon fiber, glass fiber and their hybrid materials, UAV uses carbon fiber composite, aramid fiber and so on. Small low-speed drones use carbon fiber, aramid fiber, paper honeycomb and wood materials.

Because of the particularity of structural design, UAV can be designed according to the maneuverability of UAV, and has some characteristics different from manned aircraft in material selection. The application of composite materials can improve the stealth ability of the body to a great extent.

Because the polymer does not have electrical conductivity, it can avoid the formation of probe wave scattering field. The application of composite materials plays a very important role in the effective combination of structure and function, for example, through the application of structural stealth materials, the reflection of the body to radar detection waves can be greatly reduced; the application of composite materials can achieve the integrity of the body, so as to achieve the purpose of stealth through smooth and integrated structural design, and avoid the scattering of detection waves caused by unsmooth designs such as seams and nails. All in all, these designs effectively improve the concealment of drones.

According to statistics, at present, countries around the world are making extensive use of advanced composite materials, mainly carbon fiber composites, on UAVs, accounting for 60% of the total mass fraction of the structure, accounting for 80% of the total structure, and reducing the mass of the body by more than 25%. From the beginning of non-load-bearing structure, more and more load-bearing structures of UAV adopt carbon fiber composite structure design and manufacture. The application of composite materials in reconnaissance / surveillance UAV has the advantages of high specific strength and specific stiffness, good fatigue resistance, good damping performance, good processability and so on.

In order to better reduce weight, increase mission load and prolong flight life, the lightweight design of composite materials is the trend of modern UAV design, and the trend of lightweight is the integrated design and manufacture of structures. With the increase of the amount of composite materials, the complexity of the structure continues to rise, which can give full play to the potential of composite materials, greatly reduce weight, further simplify the integrated structure of assembly relations, and shorten the production process. The application parts of composite materials have been developed from non-load-bearing parts and secondary load-bearing parts to main load-bearing parts. The development direction also tends to be large-scale, integrated and low-cost composite integral molding technology to achieve light weight, high efficiency and low cost by reducing the number of components and fasteners of complex and large structures.

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