Material research in aviation has to meet high requirements: On the one hand, the materials used in airplane structures must have a high strength in order to withstand the stresses they are exposed to through high speed of flight and extreme temperature and pressure differences. On the other hand, the materials and structures should be as lightweight as possible. Any weight reduction in the airplane structure saves fuel and makes aviation more environmentally sustainable and economic.
Innovative materials thus not only significantly contribute to the performance, safety and economic viability, but also to the environmental sustainability of aviation industry.
The EMI business unit Aviation contributes to this objective with the characterization of materials, the testing of structures, components and composites, and the modeling and optimization of lightweight structures. Fiber composites and metals, but also hybrid materials and glass are the most important of the analyzed materials. Methods for micro- and nanostructure analysis are increasingly applied in addition to standardized nondestructive and destructive testing methods. Specifically, the use of acoustic microscopy and micro-computed tomography makes research of the characteristics of relevant materials possible, even for the smallest length scales. This is necessary because many decisive processes in the materials which significantly influence the macroscopic behavior (e.g., during impact) take place in the micro- and nanometer range.
For the characterization and testing of materials, structures and components, EMI features the Crash Center of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as well as hightech testing laboratories and a number of numerical methods. Here, acceleration tests, as they are mandatory, e.g., for airplane seats can be carried through. Furthermore, for the optimization of lightweight structures, EMI can additively manufacture metallic components.