Shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators have recently been developed in the form of torsional tubes that can undergo large twisting deformations. Wing twisting has been investigated as a means to reduce induced drag in cruise conditions in small aircraft, but the actuation hardware required to generate wing twist at larger scales is prohibitively cumbersome. Replacing conventional actuators with SMA torque tubes provides a way to minimize weight of the twisting system but wing structural design then becomes more challenging. This analysis-driven design study examines an SMA torque tube as applied to the twisting wing design problem. A composite skin is considered to maximize wing performance under combined twist and aerodynamic loads. The SMA has been analyzed using a 3-D thermo-mechanical constitutive model while a preliminary study was performed to determine a composite lamina with appropriate unidirectional properties. An optimization was then completed to find an ideal composite layup. This optimization also included the design of a passive torque tube used to properly balance the twist generated by the SMA against that required in the wing. Localized buckling in the twisted wing was also considered and avoided. The product of this optimization was a composite wing that twisted while considering constraints of stress on the SMA. To validate the controllable use of SMA actuators, testing was completed on a scaled wing model fitted with a rapid prototype shell.

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