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Inflatable Tubular Structures Rigidized with FoamsInflatable tubular structures that have annular cross sections rigidized with foams, and the means of erecting such structures in the field, are undergoing development. Although the development effort has focused on lightweight structural booms to be transported in compact form and deployed in outer space, the principles of design and fabrication are also potentially applicable to terrestrial structures, including components of ultralightweight aircraft, lightweight storage buildings and shelters, lightweight insulation, and sales displays. The use of foams to deploy and harden inflatable structures was first proposed as early as the 1960s, and has been investigated in recent years by NASA, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, industry, and academia. In cases of deployable booms, most of the investigation in recent years has focused on solid cross sections, because they can be constructed relatively easily. However, solid-section foam-filled booms can be much too heavy for some applications. In contrast, booms with annular cross sections according to the present innovation can be tailored to obtain desired combinations of stiffness and weight through choice of diameters, wall thicknesses, and foam densities. By far the most compelling advantage afforded by this innovation is the possibility of drastically reducing weights while retaining or increasing the stiffnesses, relative to comparable booms that have solid foamfilled cross sections. A typical boom according to this innovation includes inner and outer polyimide film sleeves to contain foam that is injected between them during deployment.
Document ID
Document Type
Other - NASA Tech Brief
Tinker, Michael L. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Schnell, Andrew R. (Tennessee Technological Univ. Cookeville, TN, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
March 1, 2010
Publication Information
Publication: NASA Tech Briefs, March 2010
Subject Category
Man/System Technology and Life Support
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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NameType 20100009686.pdf STI

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IDRelationTitle20100009649Analytic PrimaryNASA Tech Briefs, March 2010