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Science Technology

Self-Healing System Applied to Aviation 76

ScienceDaily is reporting that the self-healing materials are being used in some new aircraft designs. We covered several self-healing systems in the past months, but it is nice to see it starting to find practical applications. "This simple but ingenious technique, similar to the bruising and bleeding/healing processes we see after we cut ourselves, has been developed by aerospace engineers at Bristol University, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It has potential to be applied wherever fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are used. These lightweight, high-performance materials are proving increasingly popular not only in aircraft but also in car, wind turbine and even spacecraft manufacture. The new self-repair system could therefore have an impact in all these fields."
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Self-Healing System Applied to Aviation

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  • Potential (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oxy the moron ( 770724 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @01:14PM (#23464320)

    Since I am far from an expert on the subject... what are the chances this same technology could be applied to prosthetics? If that were doable, I think it'd be an excellent market for allowing people to use prosthetics and be able to do more rigorous physical work.

    Might cut down on the profits of companies that make prosthetics, though, if the things just fix themselves instead of needing to be replaced. :)

  • Currently (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bostonsoxfan ( 865285 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @01:17PM (#23464362)
    There are some things already implemented similar to this. At least in concept. Many helicopters are getting new fuel tanks made of special plastics (I'm not really sure) that seal themselves when you shoot a bullet through them so there is little or no leakage. Also there are chromate conversion coatings that allow scratches but over time will repair to be almost like new.
  • by Starker_Kull ( 896770 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @01:38PM (#23464590)
    My first worry upon reading the idea would be that some dim bulb would propose that we need to reduce the number of heavy tear-down inspections to look for fatigue damage, since they 'self-repair'. But the article proposes using not only a resin that flows out to repair broken fibers, but putting dye in the resin so that fatigue cracks (and the subsequent self-repair) are much more obvious to inspectors.... To quote the article:

    "This approach can deal with small-scale damage that's not obvious to the naked eye but which might lead to serious failures in structural integrity if it escapes attention," says Dr Ian Bond, who has led the project. "It's intended to complement rather than replace conventional inspection and maintenance routines, which can readily pick up larger-scale damage, caused by a bird strike, for example."
    Nice idea... I hope we see it deployed in production aircraft someday.
  • by rkanodia ( 211354 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @02:21PM (#23465106)
    Hopefully the dye will only be visible under UV light, or else I am going to freak the hell out when I see purple veins start to bubble up from the surface of the wing of the plane I am flying in.
  • by wsanders ( 114993 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:23PM (#23465850) Homepage
    Well, then the danger is the mechanic in a hurry or under pressure is going to see the spar covered with filled in cracks, and say "it must be working OK!"

    Still, probably better than the explosive decompressions one gets with aluminum.

    Back in the old days, a good agent for finding these problems was the tar from cigarette smoke. If a small hole or crack occurred, the sludge from accumulated smoke would seep out of the crack under pressure and produce a visible stain. The crack would often self seal, although obviously would not prevent the crack from propagating, and this only worked on the elements comprising the pressure vessel.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.