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Aristeo - Silinco

News Process analysis and simulation

Aristeo - Silinco


CDTI

The use of composite materials has notably increased notably in last years, to the detriment of metals. The advantage of including composites in a design resides mainly in the intrinsic properties of the material: the excellent mechanical properties and its high specific rigidity, which leads to a considerable reduction of weight compared to the same elements fabricate out of metal. That makes these materials especially suitable for the manufacture of structures with high requirements and weight limitations.

The advance of the industry has caused an increase on the use of fuels which, in turn, has led to a rise in prices and the creation of numerous protocols for the regulation of emissions. This trend is forcing the transport sector to work in reducing its fuel consumption and one of the study lines is the continuous cutting of weight of some structural components. For this industrial step change, great reductions of weight have been obtained for similar mechanical properties by increasing composites participation. In contrast, composites’ higher electrical resistivity makes it necessary to improve their electrical conductivity for some applications.

The new applications and uses require composites to be able to discharge electricity coming from equipment, electrostatic charges or electromagnetic phenomena. This project studies different ways to enhance the electrical properties of composite materials by adding conductive low-weight elements in the structure, improving the electrical conductivity up to the requirements needed on each situation.

This study is focused on one of the most demanding situations that could happen: the discharge of current coming from a direct lightning strike on a commercial airplane. Currently, in composite aircraft meshes or metal foils are placed over the last layer to evacuate this phenomenon. These elements are placed manually and are very heavy and difficult to work, so there is a high interest to develop new lighter and automated solutions. This project was started with the objective to find that solution.

The most promising solutions from current state of the art were analyzed in detail: incorporation of conductive particles in the matrix of the composite, surface coatings with nanomaterials and metallic coatings by different application methods. After several phases of study, the best results were obtained for surface coatings with metallic materials, more specifically: thin layer coatings deposited by thermal evaporation.

Thermal Evaporation Process is very common nowadays in sectors such as decoration or wear-resistant coatings on glass and metals, but the use of this technique on composite substrate has not been developed before the start of this project.

The obtained results have been very promising. It is a breakthrough in the world of composite materials, paving the way for lighter and more cost-effective structures than were previously possible.

The studied method has been patented by FIDAMC in a joint patent with Airbus Group, CSIC-ICMM and AIN. The patent can be consulted with the reference: No. 16382228.1-1373: SILINCO.



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