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December 2005 edition

Fibre-metal laminate could further lighten aircraft

Much of the existing heavy and expensive equipment used to move aircraft flaps could become redundant if the development of a new fibre-metal laminate material proves successful.

The laminate which combines fibre composites and shape-memory alloys was created by researchers at Liverpool University in the UK.

Shape-memory alloys are made from alloys of nickel or titanium and have unique properties that enable them to deform upon heating, then return to their original shape.

Without the need for heavy equipment, manufacturers may be able to produce more lightweight and responsive aircraft with built-in self-diagnostics and a ‘morphing’ capability.

Professor Cantwell, from the university’s engineering department, said:

“This could mean that you will be able to remove much of the existing hea....

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