One of the big engineering questions with the Boeing Dreamliner was how to provide lightning strike protection in a plastic-bodied aircraft. Composites have up to 1,000 times less electrical conductivity than aluminum, increasing the potential for damage
The average airliner is struck by lightning once or twice a year. Boeing added conductive material to the composites to provide a pathway for lightning strikes. The added weight, especially on the wing where fuel is stored, was one of the factors that pushed the Dreamliner above its target weight.
The Dreamliner successfully endured its first lightning strike in a test flight last year. But Boeing is exploring a new materials’ solution to protect composite-bodied aircraft from lightning strikes, according to Boeing’s Andy Harber, who made the comment in a question-and-answer session following a presentation at AeroCon in Anaheim, CA last week. Harber, who is senior project manager-design engineering at Boeing, did not provide any specifics.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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