One of the primary concerns when incorporating inflatable softgoods into habitation structures is the potential for structural material failure due to creep, which is the deformation that occurs under sustained loading. However, conducting real-time creep testing at the component and subscale levels can take an extensive amount of time, ranging from months to years. Therefore, there is a need to develop new test methods that can reduce the time required for long-duration creep testing of webbing and cordage materials, thus helping to expedite the overall development process of softgoods structures. For this SBIR program, NASA is interested in the development of an accelerated creep testing method for soft materials such as webbing and cordages. To address this critical need, X-wave Innovations, Inc. (XII) proposes to develop an accelerated creep testing method using dynamic stressing condititions and analysis, and unsupervised learning methods. The key innovations in the proposed method are utilizing dynamic stressing conditions and advanced modified Fourier transform techniques to characterize creep and viscoelastic behavior and provide a better understanding of the material properties in relatively short time scales without altering the innate material behavior with external factors such as temperature and corrosives. The methodology will be developed by rigorous analytical developments and tested with prototype hardware additions to existing tensile testing devices. In addition, we will also develop software to apply the method to the experimental data for extracting viscoelastic and creep information.
Soft materials are used in many space and habitation applications. An accurate, reliable, and fast method of creep testing for soft materials will have many applications under NASA operations. Our proposed method has great potential for the characterization of soft materials used in habitat and inflatable structures. In addition, such a characterization method could prove useful in other applications such as; spacesuit development, robotics, parachutes, and fiber optics.
Soft materials are utilized in almost any industry; therefore, the proposed method would be greatly valuable for many applications where soft materials are utilized under loads and are expected to have a long operation life. Therefore, the proposed technique could benefit biomedical, aerospace, automobile, sports equipment, and robotic industries where soft materials are commonly utilized.