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Engineering Materials

Aerospace-Grade Composites Will Repair Themselves

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Mydesign
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Self healing process
Mydesign   5/12/2014 6:06:42 AM
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"one of the biggest obstacles to greater use of fiber-reinforced composites in automotive and aerospace structures is the difficulty of detecting internal damage that can quickly propagate and cause delamination problems."

Ann, self healing process is bit complicated in machines. In human self healing mechanisms works well because of the running blood and healing contents inside the blood. But in machines, its bit difficult because of the constituted participles, but to an extent now researchers are confident that machines can also be in self healing process. Hope this will be good for space, avionic and remotely controlled machines.

naperlou
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Terminator!
naperlou   5/12/2014 3:54:09 PM
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Ann, doesn't this remind you of the Terminator movies.  Scarry, isn't it?

bobjengr
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SELF-HEALING GRADE COMPOSITES
bobjengr   5/12/2014 7:03:30 PM
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This is a HUGE breakthrough in composite structures.  Very innovative and creative application of engineering and materials technology.  I have a little experience in repairing fiberglass boats and can state unequivocally --I'm TERRIBLE.  It's a real pain and even if successful, the repair looks awful!   It looks like a patch.  The methodology you describe could certainly provide needed solutions to composite materials.  It seems the repair is every bit as durable as the original material if not more so. I love hearing that, in some cases at least, our tax $$$$$$$ are used for efforts that provide value-added to components and structures.   Excellent post.  Really appreciate the continued updates relative to composites.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self healing process
Ann R. Thryft   5/13/2014 11:26:40 AM
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Mydesign, thanks for your comments. I agree that this breakthrough may be a very important one for planes and cars, as well as spacecraft.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Terminator!
Ann R. Thryft   5/13/2014 11:27:14 AM
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Lou, not quite yet--at least, not until composites look like molten silver and get personalities.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: SELF-HEALING GRADE COMPOSITES
Ann R. Thryft   5/13/2014 11:28:04 AM
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bobjengr, I totally agree: thanks for recognizing the potential magnitude of this discovery. I've seen repairs to fiberglass boats--you're right they look awful and it's hard to believe they're seaworthy.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Self healing process
Elizabeth M   5/14/2014 5:09:41 AM
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Ann, this is really cool. I really think self-healing materials are the way forward, even if it's a bit strange to imagine that this is possible and also trust that materials can fix their own cracks (especially in vehicles like airplanes, which are risky for human life is there is even a bit of damage to a crucial piece of equipment). This reminds me of a story I wrote awhile back about a self-healing polymer--you probably read it already: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=267960

J.Lombard
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Silver
Re: Self healing process
J.Lombard   5/14/2014 12:49:12 PM
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This is certainly interesting technology and a novel approach to hidden damage mitigation. However, there are a few issues that come to mind related to practical application:

1. This approach addresses delamination propagation by re-bonding the material layers, but does not address damaged fiber structure. Hopefully, if it is sub-surface damage, the fibers are not directly damaged, else surface damage would be visible, requiring conventional scarfing and material replacement.

2. It would be interesting to see what an ultrasonic NDT scan looks like - both of an undamaged structure and a "self-healed" structure. My understanding is that these scans look for anomalies in the reflection waveform. Would the micro-channels look like anomalies or just raise the noise level of the total scan? Would the self-healed structure look like just another discontinuity, indicating a damaged section?

3. In solid laminate construction, we are seeing more use of Double Vacuum Debulking processes (out of autoclave repair) that are intended to eliminate voids to replicate autoclave strength repairs. Do the micro-channels introduce weak areas where the composite materials are no longer homogeneous? Is there a weight penalty to pay, as more material (layers) are required to obtain the same strength as a composite structure without micro-channels and embedded uncured resin?

4. Resin systems used in aircraft fabrication have a shelf-life. What is the shelf life of the embedded resin system?

5. This application would require a room-temperature cure resin system. At this time, there are no room-temperature structural resin systems used in aircraft construction (although a lot of work is going into developing a suitable material). This self-healing approach is more suited to the marine fiberglass application mentioned in earlier posts.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Self healing process
Cabe Atwell   5/14/2014 10:30:08 PM
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I wonder how much damage those polymers could sustain before complete failure to heal occurs. Could they handle an impact from an AMRAAM missile or just structural damage and fatigue from wear and tear?

Bmoray
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Iron
Re: Self healing process
Bmoray   5/15/2014 6:25:22 AM
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Composite materials are becoming more important in the
construction of aerospace structures. Aircraft parts made
from composite materials, such as fairings, spoilers, and flight
controls, were developed during the 1960s for their weight
savings over aluminum parts. New generation large aircraft
are designed with all composite fuselage and wing structures,
and the repair of these advanced composite materials requires
an in-depth knowledge of composite structures, materials,
and tooling. The primary advantages of composite materials
are their high strength, relatively low weight, and corrosion


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