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Quality of fibre composites for modern aeroplanes

Fibre reinforced composite materials are being increasingly used in lightweight structures such as airplanes, wind turbines, automobiles and railway vehicles where the reliability of the structure is of prime concern. Therefore, the importance of efficient test methods in quality assurance for this material class is steadily increasing.

The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) demonstrates its proficiency in composite materials research and testing using methods which have been specifically developed for this material class at the JEC exhibition (Journals and Exhibitions on Composites) in Paris from 3 to 5 April 2007.

In certain parts of the aircraft industry a new and more efficient method has been developed in close cooperation between the certification authorities and BAM. This method does not require expensive and lengthy service life tests on original components. Instead, it measures the service loading fatigue of the structure using representative components.

The new method makes the rapid certification of aeroplanes possible whilst simultaneously maintaining high quality and safety standards. It is intended to implement this method in various sectors of industry to achieve a wide use of composite materials.

The beneficial characteristics specific to fibre reinforced composites, in particular, high strength and relatively low weight, increasingly replace steel and aluminium alloys among construction materials. Fibre composite materials come together only at the manufacturing process of a component as opposed to the prefabrication needed for metallic construction components. Therefore, to guarantee the service loading fatigue of a primary structure, the processing instructions must be precisely and accurately followed. Crucially, the limiting stress of composite materials and the parameters used to certify the module depend on the individual manufacturing process. Therefore, to test the production quality of fibre composites at the requisite time, BAM has developed special non-destructive test methods such as an ultrasonic procedure, which can monitor the hardening of polymer matrix systems directly during the manufacturing process.

Information: Dr. Volker Trappe
BAM Division V.6 Mechanical Behaviour of Polymers
Phone: +49 30 8104-3386

Dr. Ulrike Rockland | idw
Further information:

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