A blend of engineering skills is needed to replace steel and concrete with composite materials and create lighter, less expensive structures, capable of keeping logistic and installation costs to a minimum value. Materials with such characteristics can unlock new applications in sectors such as defense and aerospace, where structural components and pipes could be replaced. Moreover, they offer the opportunity to embed sensors within the layers and open the door to smart structures.
Starting from a 3D-fabric employed in the Aerospace sector, a whole re-engineering process was performed by BlueThink. The features that were considered numbered:
- Structural CAD design;
- Thermo-mechanical FEM simulation;
- Maximum load prediction;
- Thermal-induced stresses calculation;
- End of life characteristics estimation.
The result is an innovative composite material that can be transported in a flexible state and hardened during the installation process, thus achieving mechanical properties that are comparable to those of steel (patent US2014251638).