Giovanni Nino, Tyler Blumenthal

SAMPE 2014 Seattle (September/October Issue – Featured Article)


Thanks to the advance in printed electronics techniques and development of functional inks in the last years, new opportunities to design and to fabricate structures arise.  These technologies can reduce considerable weight and increase system integration on light weight structures or space limited structures. Thus, the combination of different inks (conductors, semiconductors, and dielectrics for example) can be used to produce highly multifunctional structures that are few microns thick. Typical elements or components are interconnects, electrodes, heaters, sensors, transducers, antennas and coatings for example.  In this paper, we present the development, fabrication and testing of a printed Thermal Protection System (TPS) over composite structures using Aerosol Jet technology. In particular, a TPS for anti-ice and/or de-ice functionality was deposited on a highly curved composite rotor blade leading edge. Aspects such as energy surface compatibilities, printing sequence, material ink curing temperatures, and durability of printed features are discussed as well. The 3D printed IPS system can be applied on a wide range of curved metallic and composite structures for manned and unmanned aircrafts. Also, it can be used on wind turbine blades, rotor blades, lips on engine inlets, and maybe on the next generation of single aisle airliners (replacement of B737).