Case study: Wing quality soars at ISIS

Study of the Airbus prototype

The ENGIN-X instrument: measuring residual stress within friction stir welds on an Airbus prototype wing rib
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ISIS helps major aerospace companies assure the quality of engineering components.

  • Neutrons can be used to see deep into the structure of engineering components like aircraft wings.
  • By testing at ISIS Airbus has been able to discover areas of potential stress and weakness in its aircraft parts.
  • This assures the quality of engineering components before the manufacturing process.

Neutrons can be used to measure stress in engineering structures. Residual stress sometimes stays in a structure when some parts of a weld cool and contract more than others, leaving potential weaknesses and the possibility of cracks.

Scientists at ISIS use neutrons to look deep inside engineering components and identify areas of stress that might lead to unexpected behaviour.

Neutron diffraction is also enabling measurement of stress fields in large aircraft wing test panels, providing information which leads to a better understanding of performance.

This enables engineers to adjust the manufacturing process and make lighter and safer aircraft parts at a lower cost.  

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has since 2006 used ISIS to research the integrity of welds in aluminium alloys, and to assess their suitability for future aircraft programmes.

Richard Burguete, an experimental mechanics specialist at Airbus, says the process has been integral to the development of welding techniques and has confirmed the integrity of aircraft parts.

“Residual stress measurement at ISIS has been invaluable in researching and developing existing and novel material manufacturing and processing techniques,” Burguete says. “The fact neutron diffraction is a non-destructive technique means it can even be used to improve component performance in manufactured parts.”

 

Research date: January 2008

Further Information

To find out more about using ISIS for commercial research, contact Martyn Bull or Uschi Steigenberger.

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