SAMPE UK and Ireland Chapter secretary, Trevor Cook explains how the organisation can help you keep up to date with composite engineering.
Composite engineers in the aerospace industry have the right to be pleased with their achievements in the last two decades.
The typical long-range airliner has gone from 15% of structural weight made from composite material to 50%, with the applications including such vital components as the wings. Similar changes have occurred in military aircraft and greater gains with drones. Aero engines are using very high temperature composites in the hot end of the engine to match the composite structures at the cooler front end. Even the cars one might buy - not just super cars - are available with significant carbon composite structures, particularly if electrically-powered.
Is now the time to say our technology is mature and we will focus on squeezing incremental improvements out of our materials, machines, and processes? Our answer to you is a definite no!
The big challenge now is to get cost and extra weight out of our composite structures, whether aerostructures or automotive. We need a step change in our attitude to new innovations and a willingness to adopt some older ideas that seem to have gotten stuck in just a few niche applications This will bring about a second revolution.
Innovative processes and materials can reduce manufacturing times and lead to better quality, complex, fastener-free, integrated structures which give significant cost savings.
So, what are these ‘magical’ new processes and materials that are going to save weight and cost? Well to be truthful few are new – they are mostly recent developments of materials or processes that failed to be fully-developed the first-time round. These innovations include:
How does a company get its engineers quickly up to speed with new composite technologies?
We suggest the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering (SAMPE) can provide a solution. This technical society operates in the UK, Europe, North America, and Asia at the crossroads between industry and academia. It provides technical forums analysing all aspects of composite materials with many opportunities to network with experts in the latest developments.
Many long-term collaborations and joint R&D programmes have been started at SAMPE conferences. In the UK, we have our annual one-day seminar (http://www.sampe.org.uk) during February, 2017 and in Europe we have our SAMPE SUMMIT 17 in Paris on the Monday before JEC World (http://www.sampe-europe.org/conferences/summit-17-paris). A full diary of events in the USA, Europe, China, and Japan is available on (http://www.nasampe.org/events/event_list.asp)