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Fuctional laminates development. Components compatibility and feasibility assessment. Industrialization

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Multi-functional aircraft composites

Vibration and acoustic emissions are major concerns when it comes to aircraft. Novel multifunctional materials for structural components promise to reduce both while enhancing protection against the elements.

Industrial Technologies

Composites that combine different materials in one structure allow engineers to optimise multiple properties by combining the strengths of individual constituents. This provides the opportunity for space, weight and cost savings with enhanced performance.Two important performance criteria are minimised vibrations and acoustic emissions. Vibration causes critical aircraft components to degrade and potentially crack or fail. It can affect everything from electronics and instrumentation to the airframe itself, so vibration reduction is a key goal of any multifunctional structural component. Decreasing acoustic emissions is a pillar of the ambitious European Clean Sky research initiative to reduce the impact of air transportation.EU-funded scientists working on the project COMPASS investigated the potential of integrating vibro-acoustic damping materials into carbon fibre-reinforced plastic laminates for a multifunctional solution. Scientists selected various damping materials and manufacturing processes to study and optimise. Although vibration and noise were the main targets, reductions in both had to be accomplished without compromising on mechanical properties. Further, the team evaluated the materials’ performance with respect to erosion, lightning protection and sealing against ingress of moisture.Having determined the optimal materials and processing methods at lab scale, researchers up-scaled to deliver several technology demonstrators. With an eye on future industrialisation, the team took the opportunity during the final stage to prepare its industrialisation strategy.Commercial implementation of COMPASS’s multifunctional materials for aircraft promises a host of important benefits for the aircraft industry, passengers and the environment. Technology will reduce production costs and component weights, the latter of which reduces fuel consumption, emissions and operating costs. Improved vibration and acoustic performance of aircraft will reduce maintenance costs, increase safety and enhance passenger comfort. Overall, these concepts should enhance EU's economy and position in the aerospace sector.

Keywords

Aircraft, multifunctional, vibro-acoustic damping, carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, erosion, lightening, moisture

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