He was observing a "destructive test" conducted by structural engineers at
At 30,000 pounds of squeeze, the spool cracked like a gunshot. That's what the earplugs were for. But the structure held.
As the pressure increased, the composite began to dimple and dent. More pops began to ring out, but none as loud as before.
Finding that sweet spot of collapse for composite materials -- the kind used to build airplanes, for instance, or spacecraft or automobiles -- and thus learn to build even better ones is a niche NASA Langley wants to carve out for itself.
Warner shares that vision.
"If we think about 30 years ago,
The FY2014 omnibus spending bill passed last month includes
New and improved composites can make aircraft and automobiles lighter, stronger, more fuel-efficient and cheaper to produce,
Developing composites can be a long and complex process -- as long as 20 years from concept through certification,
NASA Langley is positioning itself to take on that research role, and says it could shrink the timeline to only three to five years.
"It's kind of our role as a national lab," said research engineer
This fall, NASA Langley expects to bring its own industrial robot online, he said, enabling engineers to digitally model and simulate composites production "from end to end" with high precision.
"That (ability) does not exist in composites right now," Stewart said. "This gives us the ability in a totally digital environment to feed that back into the analysis work ... and we can also build plenty of test specimens."
Between ISAAC, the existing aerospace infrastructure and enlisting the right industry and academic partners, said Stewart, "we actually have the potential, between
"My hope," said Warner, "is we can do the design but also the development, testing and then actual manufacturing here in this region. That would be great news as we continue to try to diversity our economy."
Dietrich can be reached by phone at 757-247-7892.
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