GKN Aerospace researchers at the company’s Luton facility in the UK are working with a team at the University of Bristol in the UK on an 18 month programme to explore advanced coatings chemistries that will accurately indicate the existence and extent of damage in composite structure.
John Cornforth, Head of Technology at GKN Aerospace explains:
As the proportion of the airframe that is composite structure grows, the ability to reliably and swiftly identify damage and understand its extent becomes ever more critical to an effective repair procedure. However, composite damage can be hard to spot with the naked eye as this material has the ability to appear to ‘recover’ post-impact.
The new coating will contain smart microspheres which will signal in the ultra-violet visible spectrum when damage has occurred. Careful design of the microspheres will mean the coating is able to provide a signature reflecting different energy levels, indicating the extent and level of damage to staff.
Within this research activity, the company is exploiting both the intelligent coatings expertise contained within the aircraft transparencies business and in complex composite structure design and manufacture.