AirSpeed Wind Tunnel Data Analysis Suite
The highest fidelity and lowest risk method of estimating an airframe aerodynamic properties is via a well-structured wind tunnel test program. Unfortunately, this method of obtaining aerodynamic data is also very expensive. APL's AirSpeed modeling and simulation software allows a user to plan a wind tunnel test program very precisely using estimated run times, model change times, and tunnel cost factors. This allows the run plan to be more precisely tailored to the amount of wind tunnel test time purchased.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have developed an approach to make wind tunnel models that are significantly better in terms of cost and time than current, conventional methods. This technology comprises a pioneering rapid prototyping manufacturing technique that uses Fused Deposition Modeling Technology to construct an ABS plastic aerodynamic body around a reusable metal “strong back” or “backbone” to yield a low cost, sufficiently rigid and robust wind tunnel model that is a metal/plastic hybrid. Using rapid prototype manufacturing techniques and materials in this way significantly reduces time and cost of production of wind tunnel models. APL has used its unique capabilities in Rapid Prototype Manufacturing to help its Navy and Air Force sponsors save both time and money on their “design-to-product” costs for wind tunnel models. From these rapid prototype wind tunnel models the Navy and Air Force can quickly build up a large number of prototypes and then run these models in the wind tunnel to rapidly determine the most optimal model to be used in real action.
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