Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Anthony N. Palazotto, PhD.


Micro-air vehicles (MAV)s provide a valuable and low observable way to do the jobs that the Air Force deems to be dull, dirty and dangerous. Basing the design of an MAV wing on that of a biological counterpart will provide a proven design that is capable of achieving the mission requirements. This research is designed to analyze the design and manufacturing of a wing based off the Manduca Sexta.

Inaccuracies in the fiber orientation can result in substantial changes in the material properties. Experimental vibration data of composite material samples manufactured using a three-ply [0/90/0] small non-homogenous fiber composite provided results that varied over 33 percent from analytical results. Since the material was to be used in the manufacturing of a biologically inspired MAV, it was important to understand the cause of the variance in the measured material properties so that they could be taken into account for the design and manufacturing of the MAV wing.

An analysis was performed on the material to verify that it matched specified material properties. Inaccuracies in the manufacturing of the composite samples were taken into account; specifically ply orientation, cut angle, and material thickness were examined. Using finite element analysis (FEA), it was determined that a misalignment in fiber orientation of less than five degrees combined with resulting short fiber effects accounts for the difference between analytical and experimental results. Using an optical microscope, variances in the ply orientation was observed confirming the FEA results. Possible inaccuracies in the composite material were taken into consideration during the design and construction of the MAV wing.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number