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March 2006 edition

Damage tolerance and durability of fibre-metal laminates for aircraft structures

By Professors Jenn-Ming Yang, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and H. Thomas Hahn,

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California shares its findings on the use of a hybrid composite consisting of alternating thin layers of metal sheets and fibre-reinforced resin prepreg for potential applications in aircraft structures.

Fibre-reinforced metal laminates (FML) are hybrid composites consisting of alternating thin layers of metal sheets and fibre reinforced resin prepreg. The most commonly used metal for FML is aluminium, and the fibres can be Kevlar or glass. The FML with glass fibres (GLARE) and Kevlar fibres (ARALL) have been evaluated for potential applications in aircraft structures. These laminates possess excellent properties of both metal and fibrous composite materials. This combination results in a new family of hybrid laminates with an ability to impede and arrest crack growth caused by cyclic loading, with excellent impact and damage tolerance characteristics and a low density. Also, the corrosion resistance is excellent because the prepreg layers are able to act as moisture barriers between the various inner aluminium layers, whereas the metal layers protect the fibre/epoxy layers from picking up moisture. The laminate also has an inherent high burn-through resistance as well as good damping and insulation pr....

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