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Curved Composite Tend Pole Case Study

Thin walled aluminum and fiberglass composite poles were widely used throughout the industry but the interest remained for even lighter pole sets particularly for backpacking and special military applications.

Carbon fiber tent poles were lightweight and strong but lacked flexibility (bend radius) due to their inherent low strain to failure.   Carbon fiber tent pole applications were therefore very limited.

CSS explored a novel approach to increase carbon fiber tent pole bend radius while maintaining the highly desirable weight savings.   The concept was simple in principle; mold curvature into the tent pole segments to reduce maximum strain at the installed bend radius while balancing the need to maintain a small packing volume.

Additional weight savings objectives included elimination of aluminum end fittings found on most composite poles.   CSS' solution was to mold segments with integral ferrule and opposing socket ends to facilitate bending load transfer without fittings.

Integral Pole Ferrule

The lightweight asymmetric tent pole layup design utilized low Fiber Areal Weight (FAW) standard modulus carbon fiber epoxy prepregs, 50 - 75 g/mē FAW, for maximum weight savings.   Layup designs included local reinforcements in the ferrule taper transition for added bending strength and circumferential reinforcements in the opposing socket end to prevent splitting.

Preforms were rolled on custom small diameter mandrels and Bladder Inflation Molded (BIM) in clamshell tooling.

Straight and Curved Composite Tent Poles with Integral Ferrule and Socket Ends

The carbon fiber composite pole segments were 32% lighter and tested favorably compared to a 9.0 mm OD, 0.66 mm wall 6061-T6 aluminum pole segment.   When installed the novel curved carbon fiber tent poles were under significantly less preload compared to straight aluminum tent pole segments.


Please Contact Us to learn more about CSS' Composite Product Development capabilities and Bladder Molding Support services or to discuss your FRP composite program needs.