The technique of morphing in aerospace engineering is a relatively new discipline targeting the improvement of aircraft performance, even through dramatic changes to some critical geometrical and mechanical features, to adapt aircrafts’ configurations to evolving operation conditions. The development path of morphing systems
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The technique of morphing in aerospace engineering is a relatively new discipline targeting the improvement of aircraft performance, even through dramatic changes to some critical geometrical and mechanical features, to adapt aircrafts’ configurations to evolving operation conditions. The development path of morphing systems is complex and shall pass through articulated gates to prove its readiness level due to the concurrence of different disciplines and approaches. The characterization and demonstration of the concepts in a representative environment, such as wind tunnel test facilities, are some of the most relevant steps needed for the maturation of the engineering technique. The practical size limitations of test facilities usually impose the use of scaled models. In the case of morphing systems, whose architecture is strictly dependent on the available room, and whose performance is tightly correlated with the general structural stiffness, changes in dimensions may affect the overall behaviour significantly. Therefore, the adaptive design may change a lot until it arrives to the formation of completely different products. Transportability issues of certain architectural forms, as well as the different classes of vehicles, are also related to that aspect. The scope of this paper is to investigate the impact of some effects of scaling processes on certain features of a morphing system, particularly focusing on the stiffness parameters, for their impact on several features such as the load bearing capability and structural stability in both steady and dynamic conditions. As a case study, a rotorcraft blade segment integrated with torsional shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators was considered. Relevant numerical models were exploited to highlight the different evolution laws of the characteristic structural parameters vs. the referred scale factors. In this investigation, the axial, flap, lag bending, and torsion stiffnesses, as well as normal modes and stress levels, are considered. The achieved results confirm the complexity of attaining an effective reproduction of the targeted morphing architecture, as scaled configurations are considered. In spite of the unavoidable specificity of the analysis herein reported, it is believed that such attainments can have a general validity at least to some extent, and the outcomes may be exported to other morphing systems, at least as guidelines. This study took place within the European project SABRE (Shape Adaptive Blades for Rotorcraft Efficiency, H2020).