Shape memory composites combine structural properties of continuous-fiber polymer-matrix composites with functional behavior of shape memory polymers. In this study, the production of shape memory composite structures for aerospace applications is described. Small-scale grabbing systems were prototyped as they could be used for space cleaning operations. Composite hands were manufactured by using two carbon fiber composite layers with a shape memory polymer interlayer. They were produced in the closed-hand configuration and subsequently opened in the memorizing step. Due to heating, composites tended to recover the initial closed configuration, allowing to grab small objects. Two different shapes (cylindrical and cubic) were considered for composite hands. In the first case, the shape memory behavior was given to the entire structure whereas, in the second case, shape memory properties were provided only to folding zones. As a result, a good shape recovery was observed in both cases but part weight was already not negligible also in these small-scale systems.

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