Composite Materials and Structures

COURSE NO.: 1030


Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer matrix composites (PMCs) and carbon matrix composites (CAMCs) - especially
carbon/carbon composites (CCCs) - are well-established in spacecraft and launch vehicle structures and subsystems. 
Metal matrix composites (MMCs) and ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) are used in selective applications, including
electronic/photonic thermal management.  Low-CTE advanced materials with thermal conductivities of 1700 W/m-K
are in production, resulting in mass reductions of as much as 85%.  The key driving force for use of composites in
structures is that they offer up to order-of-magnitude improvements in specificstiffness (stiffness-to-density) and
specific strength (strength-to-density) ratios, combined with outstanding resistance to fatigue and creep. The near-zero
thermal distortion achievable with composites has led to their widespread application in antennas, optical benches,
instruments and other components requiring dimensional stability.  CAMCs, and CMCs offer significant mass reductions
for high-temperature applications.  This course provides an overview of all these important materials.  It emphasizes an
understanding of the basicprinciples that can prevent some of the well-publicized failures and problems in recent years. 
Participants are invited to bring issues for class discussion.


Include an extensive set of notes.


Spacecraft and launch vehicle engineers, scientists and managers involved in structures, mechanisms, propulsion,
antennas, solar arrays, optical systems, thermal management and electronic/photonic packaging. The course is
intended for those who have had little or no experience with composite and those with experience who wish to broaden
their knowledge of materials of special interest to launch vehicles and spacecraft. Quality assurance and manufacturing
engineers. Purchasing specialists. Material suppliers. Other professionals who need a knowledge of composites technology.


Properties of the four classes of composite materials: PMCs, MMCs, CMCs and CAMCs (which includes CCCs). Dimensionally
stable composites. High temperature materials. Ultrahigh-thermal-conductivity composites and other advanced materials. Properties
of the many different types of carbon (graphite) fibers. Other key fibers. Special resins for space applications. The importance of
test methods. How to design composite components. Manufacturing methods, including low-cost processes. Avoiding common
pitfalls. Special considerations for the space environment. Microcracking.  How to choose from the wide array of composite materials.
Current and emerging applications in structures, mechanisms, optical benches instrument structures, solar arrays, antennas, booms and
masts, propulsion systems, thermal control, electronic packaging and electronic enclosures.


  1. Introduction.
    Overview. Brief history. Key classes of composite materials: PMCs, MMCs, CMCs, CAMCs and CCCs.
    Terminology. Importance of anisotropy.
  2. Key Materials and Their Properties.
    Fibrous reinforcements: carbon (graphite) made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN), petroleum and coal tar pitch,
    aramid, E-glass, high strength glass, boron, silicon carbide, alumina and others. Particulate reinforcements.
    Key resin systems: epoxies, cyanate esters (polycyanurates), siloxanes, bismaleimides, polyimides and others.
    Test method considerations. Properties of key PMCs, MMCs, CMCs, CAMCs and CCCs: strength properties,
    elastic properties, thermal expansion, thermal conductivity, moisture expansion, and density. Property variability.
  3. Special Considerations for Spacecraft and Launch Vehicle Applications.
    Microcracking, outgassing, EMI and ionizing radiation shielding, atomic oxygen degradation. Improving
    oxidation resistance of CCCs.
  4. Manufacturing Methods and Nondestructive Evaluation.
    Key fabrication methods for PMCs, MMCs, CMCs, CAMCs and CCCs. Low cost processes. Overview of key
    NDE methods.  Outsourcing issues.
  5. Design Methods.
    Special design considerations for composite materials: anisotropic strength and elastic properties, low transverse
    properties, stress concentrations, Microcracking. Laminated plate theory. Adhesive and mechanical joints.
    Lessons learned.
  6. Applications.
    Spacecraft structures, launch vehicle structures, optical benches, instrument structures, solar arrays, antennas,
    booms and masts, propulsion systems, thermal control, electronic packaging, mechanisms.

Instructor: Dr. Carl Zweben

Dr. Zweben, an independent consultant on composites and advanced thermal management materials, was for many years
Advanced Technology Manager and Division Fellow at GE Astro Space, later acquired by Lockheed Martin, where he
managed the Composites Center of Excellence. Other affiliations have included Du Pont, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and
the Georgia Institute of Technology NSF Electronic Packaging Research Center. Dr. Zweben was the first, and one of
only two winners of both the GE One-in-a-Thousand and Engineer of the Year awards. He is a Life Fellow of ASME, a
Fellow of ASM and SAMPE, and an Associate Fellow of AIAA.  He has been a Distinguished Lecturer for AIAA and
ASME. He is an internationally recognized composites expert, with over 40 years of commercial and aerospace experience
in polymer matrix-, metal matrix-, ceramic matrix- and carbon matrix composite materials technology, including: design,
manufacturing, product development, material development and characterization, test method development and basic
research in micromechanics and material behavior. Dr. Zweben pioneered a wide range of commercial and aerospace
composite applications, including spacecraft and aircraft structures, mechanisms, machine components, rocket motor
cases, thermal control, microelectronic and photonic packaging, marine structures, Civil Engineering structures, automobiles,
rapid transit vehicles, robots, wind turbines, flywheels, antennas and pressure vessels. He has performed market studies
and advised GE Corporate Headquarters and GE Plastics on acquisitions and joint ventures. Dr. Zweben has to his credit
well over 100 contributions to journals, handbooks and encyclopedias, and has presented more than 100 invited lectures,
including one at the AIAA 50th Anniversary “Learn from the Masters” series. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief, with Dr. Anthony
Kelly, CBE, FRS, of the 6-volume “Comprehensive Composite Materials”. Dr. Zweben has directed and lectured at over
250 classroom, satellite broadcast, videotape and online short courses in the US, Europe and Asia. He has consulted for
numerous national and governmental organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, Department of
Defense and Department of Energy. Industrial clients have included Boeing, GE Aircraft Engines, General Dynamics, Hughes,
BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Hitco Carbon Composites, BP-Amoco, Cytec Carbon Fibers, GE Advanced Materials,
Poco Graphite, Reynolds Metals Company, Rogers Corporation, Zyvex Corporation, Beacon Power, MRSI, Nokia,
Princeton University High Energy Physics Group, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory and other Fortune 500 companies.


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