With a broad range of applications like corrosion protection, scratch resistance, and structural parts, hybrid materials receive a great deal of attention – particularly in high-performance engineering sectors such as aerospace, and automotive. As well as boasting high specific strength and stiffness, hybrid materials and structures like sandwich panels, foams, lattices, and composites, have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of those industries. But how can we ensure that the full benefits of this class of material are realized? And what challenges are there within the design and development process that could prevent this from happening?
In terms of sheer coolness, very few things come close to NASA – especially if you happen to be an avid Sci-Fi fan like me. With that in mind, two stories that emphasise the critical role materials selection plays in the quest towards space exploration have caught my eye.
Watching a recent Granta webinar*, it struck me that composites qualification is a huge, and often very expensive, undertaking.
Dr Donna Dykeman, Senior Project Manager for Collaborative R&D at Granta, told me just how huge this task can be: “The process sensitivity of the composite, and its directional property capabilities, mean that a single material qualification program could result in more than 1,300 tests.”