Scientists have found a way to mimic natural healing processes and apply their effects to aircrafts used in commercial flight. The technique maintains small-scale damage that could be overlooked during an inspection. It’s not a permanent solution to maintenance, but a great compliment during flight.
This simple but ingenious technique, similar to the bruising and bleeding/healing processes we see after we cut ourselves, has been developed by aerospace engineers at Bristol University, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It has potential to be applied wherever fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are used. These lightweight, high-performance materials are proving increasingly popular not only in aircraft but also in car, wind turbine and even spacecraft manufacture. The new self-repair system could therefore have an impact in all these fields.
But, as stated, this is only the first step of integrating this technology into our everyday use. It’ll be four years before we see this technology applied to commercial use.