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?
Granta recently wrapped-up its participation in Accelerated Metallurgy, a European Union (EU) collaborative project focused on speeding up discovery of new alloys. What lessons did we learn?
Alloys have been vital throughout human civilization – think of the importance of brass and bronze in ancient times. Today, production and use of alloys accounts for an amazing 46% of all European Union manufacturing value and 11% of the EU’s total GDP, contributing over €1.5 trillion annually to the EU economy. It’s a long way from the Bronze Age to modern super alloys, yet we are still a very long way from exploring all of the possible combinations of today’s 61 commercially-available metals. The reason is that current approaches to manufacturing and testing potential alloys are time-consuming, labour intensive, and expensive – making comprehensive studies unsustainable.