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Bioinspired material can’t be cut – Materials – Physics World

Shells, grapefruit and piranha-proof fish motivate design of “Proteus” material that resists power drills and water jets

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A highly deformable material that cannot be cut, even with tools such as angle grinders or power drills, could find use in a wide range of security and safety equipment. The new material – dubbed “Proteus” by its developers in the UK and Germany – is only 15% as dense as steel and is made from ceramic spheres encased in an aluminium sheath with a cellular structure that mimics that of grapefruit skins and mollusc shells.

Hierarchical structures – which contain the same base structure repeated at different length scales – are ubiquitous in nature, where they serve to protect plants and animals from extreme loads and impacts. A grapefruit, for example, can fall 10 metres without suffering damage to its pulp thanks to its tough outer skin and the open-pored cellular structure of its interior, which is reinforced with “struts” made of pith (parenchymatic cells). Similarly, the Arapaima fish, which is native to the Amazon river, resists the attack of razor-toothed piranhas thanks to its highly mineralized external layer of scales, which boast sinusoidal grooves with a periodicity that is out-of-phase with the spacing of piranha teeth. Molluscs have also evolved an extremely hard, fracture-resistant material for their shells. Known as nacre, it consists of aragonite tiles interlinked with an organic, flexible interlayer.

Dynamic interaction over passive resistance

In designing the new non-cuttable material, Stefan Szyniszewski, a materials engineer at Durham University in the UK, says that he and his colleagues at the University of Surrey, the University of Stirling, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz, Germany, were “intrigued” by the way the cellular structure of grapefruit and the tiled structure of mollusc shells prevent damage to the fruit or creatures inside. “These natural structures informed the working principle of our material, which is based on dynamic interaction with the applied load, in contrast to passive resistance,” Szyniszewski says.

While nacre and grapefruit pith are protective despite being made from relatively weak organic building blocks, Szyniszewski and colleagues chose to use hard alumina ceramics and a flexible aluminium foam matrix. To create the flexible matrix, they began by mixing aluminium powder with a foaming agent, titanium dihydride. They then consolidated this powder in a compressor and extruded it to produce dense rods of material, which they cut into smaller pieces. Next, they stacked the compressed aluminium powder rods in an orthogonal “grillage” pattern around the ceramic spheres. Finally, after enclosing the structure in a steel box using spot welds, they heated the entire ensemble in a 760°C furnace for roughly 15 minutes.

“Doubly destructive” effect

When they tried to cut the material, the researchers found that the cellular aluminium structure wrapped around the ceramic spheres had a “doubly destructive” effect on their tools. The first element of the effect comes about because the act of cutting creates high-speed motion at the points where the material interacts with the tool. Although the ceramic spheres can be partially cut, their vibrations quickly blunt the cutting disc or drill bit.

“The working principle of the material is based on local resonance and vibrations of the interface between the fast-moving cutting tools and the ceramics embedded in the metallic cellular structure,” Szyniszewski explains. “This interaction creates an interlocking, vibrational connection that resists the cutting tools indefinitely. The blade is gradually eroded and eventually rendered ineffective as the force and energy of the disc is turned back on itself and the cutting disc is weakened and destroyed by its own attack.”

But that is not all. When the spheres come into contact with the cutting tools, the researchers found that the spheres fragmented into fine micron-sized particles. These fragments then fill the cellular structure of the composite material, creating an abrasive interface that becomes harder as the speed of the cutting tool increases, thanks to interatomic forces between the ceramic grains. The adaptive nature of the material thus further repulses any attack.

“Like cutting through a jelly filled with nuggets”

The net effect, Szyniszewski explains, is like cutting through a jelly filled with nuggets. “If you get through the jelly, you hit the nuggets and the material will vibrate in such a way that it destroys the cutting disc or drill bit,” he says. He also likens the material to a sandbag, which can be pierced with a stick, but will resist and stop a bullet at high speed.

In addition to metal cutting tools, the researchers tried cutting their material with a high-pressure jet of water. This strategy proved similarly ineffective because the convex surfaces of the ceramic spheres widen the jet, thereby reducing its speed by two orders of magnitude and dramatically weakening its cutting capacity.

Szyniszewski’s team has dubbed the material “Proteus”, after the shape-changing god in Greek mythology, because its excellent resistance requires it to undergo internal transformations. According to the team, the new material could find applications in security, such as doors and bicycle locks, and personal health and safety equipment, such as non-cuttable elbow pads or reinforced shoes for people working with potentially dangerous cutting tools.

The researchers, who detail their work in Scientific Reports, are now studying how shock waves travel in their material and convert mechanical energy into chemical transformations of the base materials. They have a patent pending for their technology and hope to work with industry partners to develop products for the marketplace.

Source: https://physicsworld.com/a/bio-inspired-material-cant-be-cut/

Composites

Teledyne CML Composites awarded Airbus A400M contract

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Teledyne CML Composites awarded Airbus A400M contract

Teledyne CML Composites announces the award of a contract with Airbus in Madrid for the ‘Life Of Program’ supply of composite wing components and assemblies on the A400M tactical airlifter. 

Designed making extensive use of advanced composite materials, the awarded package of parts includes a range of thermoplastic and prepreg composite components to be supplied to the Airbus A400M composite wing box assembly line at the Filton facility in Bristol.

“The decision to award this latest package to Teledyne CML Composites is a reflection of our proven track record to supply high quality composite parts that exceed our customer’s expectations,” said John Toner, vice-president & general manager, Teledyne Aerospace and Defence Electronics UK (TADE UK) and general manager of Teledyne CML Composites.

“With this A400M contract award, we have concluded a significant investment in a new Thermoplastics processing cell. Having identified thermoplastics as a key technology in our long term growth ambitions, this investment adds an exciting new automated manufacturing capability to our business and places Teledyne CML Composites at the forefront of composites manufacturing technology.”

www.teledynecml.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/teledyne-cml-composites-awarded-airbus-a400m-contract/

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NCC and Dstl partner to facilitate R&D in future combat aircraft composite structures

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NCC and Dstl partner to facilitate R&D in future combat aircraft composite structures

An exciting new partnership has been formed to explore the art of the possible for the next generation of lightweight, strong and resilient combat aircraft composite structures.

This will range from innovative approaches to overall structural layout, manufacturing and assembly to the optimal combination of detail features, and material selection.

The National Composites Centre (NCC) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are leading the programme through their joint steering group and wider community, which will bring together the greatest minds from academia, leading defence primes, SMEs and other parties outside of the traditional defence sector. The Advanced Design of Composites Structures for Future Combat Aircraft (ADCoSCA) programme includes a balance of intramural research at NCC, and extramural research, both of which could be influenced by the community.

The partnership kicks off with a competitive invitation to organisations to pitch their design and research ideas in order to influence the content of the project, and where and how aspects of it are undertaken. The steering group will then work with the community to develop and downselect these ideas into a coordinated series of funded research projects.

The UK needs to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology with its defence and combat capabilities to support our national security interests, to protect our people, and to safeguard our prosperity. Investing in advanced research across the range of potential combat aircraft concepts is essential to ensure the defence and security needs of our front-line commands are met. This spans next-generation manned combat aircraft, unmanned adjuncts, and the associated range of development and procurement approaches (e.g. spiral development).

Composites are used in all areas of modern society to make things lighter, stronger, smarter, more durable, and more sustainable. Thanks to the extensive use of composite materials, 15,000km non-stop flights from the UK to Australia are now possible. Wind turbine blades now measure in excess of 100m, generating more clean energy to drive the UK towards a carbon neutral and electrified future. High performance vehicles including modern fighter jets (e.g. Typhoon) and Formula 1 cars are 80% made from composite materials, which equates to 40% of the total weight for the jet and just 25% for the Formula 1 car. This proves just how effective composites are, however, we know that composite technologies still have a lot more to offer. The NCC and Dstl will innovate, push boundaries and exploit composite technologies for combat aircraft even further through this new partnership.

As a world-leading composites research facility with an unrivalled breadth of industrial scale capabilities, the NCC already works with large defence organisations and others to develop and de-risk their technology, and it works on future product development programmes related to the defence sector.

Richard Oldfield, chief executive of the NCC, said: “We’re delighted to work closely with Dstl to increase the UK’s capabilities and innovation in the use of composites technologies for combat aircraft. As a world-leader in advanced composites design and manufacture, the NCC is uniquely placed to help enhance Dstl’s know-how for future combat aircraft composite structures. That’s why today, we are launching an open call for the brightest and most innovative ideas from a range of organisations so we can work together to equip our Armed Forces with the next generation of high tech, resilient and efficient defence capabilities. This will play a crucial role in how the UK responds to the most complex challenges and threats to national security that our country may face.”

Steve Simm, air systems programme manager at Dstl, said: “Dstl is the science inside UK defence and security. To perform its role, Dstl must identify and harness the most advanced technologies, and working with the NCC and the wider UK community provides an exciting opportunity to explore the art of the possible in the design and manufacture of composite structures for the next generation of UK combat air systems. The emphasis of this work is the exploration of innovative technologies and approaches to reduce mass and through-life cost, and to increase performance, availability, adaptability and modularity.”

The two primary aims of the programme are:

  • to develop airframe design concepts through trades studies and worked examples; and
  • to systematically collate and develop the underpinning data upon which the airframe design trades are built, including the performance of composite materials and features, and to identify and mitigate those features that are constraining performance and cost.

Priority shall be given to those transformational ideas that identify and mitigate existing limitations through design, such as through innovative structural layout at the platform and sub-assembly level; through detail features that permit increased operating strain; through design approaches that provide extreme levels of damage resistance and/or tolerance; and through design approaches that provide extreme levels of modularity, adaptability, and part-count reduction.

The steering group would like to engage the UK community, drawing from SMEs, academia and traditional primes as well as parties outside of the traditional defence sector, and would like to explore gearing opportunities such as matched funding and collaboration.

All intellectual property owned by individual organisations will be protected and tracked with any engagements involving the steering group.

The first stage of the process is for organisations and interested parties to pitch their ideas and capabilities through an Expression of Interest. Parties with successful will then be invited to engage in further planning of the research programme, and to submit formal bids for funding. If successful, funding will typically be awarded before the end of March 2021. Thus, interested parties have an opportunity to influence the work of programme and the selection of those undertaking it, and potentially to undertake aspects of the programme themselves.

Further information on the competition process and timetable is available on the NCC website. The steering group is holding a webinar on Wednesday 13 January 2021. 14:00-16:00, for anyone interested in applying to find out more and ask any questions. You can sign up through the Eventbrite page.

www.nccuk.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/ncc-and-dstl-partner-to-facilitate-rd-in-future-combat-aircraft-composite-structures/

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