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Boeing's 787 Dreamliner uses composites for various airframe components.  (Source: Boeing)

UV Light Shows Resin Bleeding into Fracture  (Source: Gizmag)
Future composite aircraft could have a circulatory system filled with the resin

Miniscule cracks and flaws in the airframe of commercial and private aircraft can lead to catastrophic failure of the aircraft leading to loss of life and property. Commercial airlines routinely inspect their aircraft for damage and issues that could lead to an accident. The problem is that small cracks and light damage can be difficult to detect and impossible to see with the naked eye.

Aerospace engineers from Bristol University have developed a new method to complement routine visual inspections of commercial aircraft made from composite materials such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The researchers have devised a way to fill the hollow parts of composite aircraft with a self hardening resin. When the airframe is damaged the resin would bleed out of the hollow spaces into the crack and seal the damaged area with enough strength to maintain flight and safely land. The engineers also say that future aircraft could have the resin moving continuously through a circulatory system built-in to the airframe.

The resin doesn’t return the airframe to 100% of its strength, but the researchers say that the resin would allow the damaged area to regain 80% to 90% of its former strength. The process used by the engineers is likened to the process the human body uses to heal after a cut. In the body, blood leaks into the damage tissue where platelets form clots to stop bleeding and a scab forms to aid in healing and protect the area. In the engineers system the resin is the blood and the hardened resin is like a clot and scab protecting the area.

The resin the engineers propose to use would have a blue color allowing ground crews to readily identify areas where the resin has affected repairs to small areas of damage. Project leader Dr. Ian Bond said, “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. 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.”

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RE: Science Fiction becoming Reality
By bmheiar on 5/30/2008 3:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks. ;) I started playing BattleTech/MechWarrior, D&D and other RPGs in the late 80s. I have all published game material & many official & unofficial misc items for BattleTech/MechWarrior from BattleDroids (original name before George Lucas filed a lawsuit against FASA in 1984) to what is being produced now for Classic BattleTech game system by Catalyst Game Labs ( I still play (when I can find others who are interested, though few and far between), collect, and read the game books that I have. But I am behind in my reading, not up to date with the current material. I still buy it though. I am not much into MechWarrior DarkAge series, something with that story line & with those prepainted plastic miniatures just does not give me the same experience as the original history/story line & metal miniatures that require assembling, painting, customizing, & etc., do it yourself feel. I have a large gaming collection for D&D (1st -4th editions), BattleTech/MechWarrior, RoboTech, some for Rifts, some for Shadowrun, some for Star Wars, and other game titles. I haven't played in a long time, would like to get back into playing RPGs & etc., again, particularly D&D.

RE: Science Fiction becoming Reality
By Souka on 5/30/2008 5:52:40 PM , Rating: 2
Your name doesn't happen to be Jeff Albertson and you also own comic book store? Sound like it to me! :)

By bmheiar on 5/31/2008 10:59:09 AM , Rating: 3
Nope... Sorry to disappoint you. :P My name is Brad Heiar. I do not own a comic book store, though I do frequent some on occasion. I am actually an Associate Engineer (Entry-Level Design/Electrical Engineer not P. E. or E. I. T as of yet) for a power distribution company (Lower Colorado River Authority, in Texas designing new & modifying old power transfer substations that transfer power from power generation at dams, wind farms, & etc., to other substations then distributed to multiple power companies all across Texas. They in turn provide it to their customers both businesses & residential areas.

But I have been a gamer, for a long time since the late 80s. Mainly pen/pencil, dice, paper, creating a character & using your imagination RPGs NOT this eye candy special effects video/console games that are popular now. I just haven't played in a long time because of life situations, obligations, going to college, working full-time and etc. But I would like to get back into it gaming again, when I have some time and if find a local gaming group (D&D, BattleTech, and other games) of close to my age mature adults or whatever.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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