Industrial CASE PhD Studentship with GE Aviation Multi-Axis architecture woven pre-form composites for aircraft structures subjected to complex loading

Applications are invited from a suitably qualified aeronautical/mechanical/materials engineering graduate for a CASE PhD studentship supported by GE Aviation Systems Hamble. The project will address the design, manufacturing and analysis of 3D woven fibre architectures in aircraft structures.

For complex components such as those that would otherwise have been machined from aluminium alloy, care must be taken when deciding to manufacture using composite materials. If pre-impregnated fabrics and tapes are used, delamination issues can arise at stiffener junctions with small corner radii due to the high inter-laminar stress concentrations found in these areas. In this instance, recourse to 3D woven fabrics and stitched preforms would solve many of these issues. However, there is a need to understand the failure mechanisms in this type of structure in more detail and since liquid resin infusion or resin transfer moulding are the only routes to manufacture, component quality is another factor that must be investigated and understood. These latter issues are the primary focus of this research project.

The research project will investigate the use of multi-axis architecture (3D woven and Non-Crimp Fabric) pre-forms and out-of-autoclave processing for aircraft structural components subjected to complex loading conditions. A typical commercial aircraft wing trailing edge (TE) rib will be used as the candidate structure in the research. This structural component is used to support the trailing edge flight surfaces such as the flaps and ailerons, and is also used to attach the trailing edge cover panels which form a smooth aerodynamic surface at the trailing edge of the wing. The TE ribs are therefore subjected to a variety of loading conditions associated with flap and control surface movement and the aerodynamic pressure loads imparted by the cover panels. Currently the TE ribs are machined from aluminium alloy. This research project will investigate the use of composite materials, such as 3D woven preforms and NCF’s together with liquid resin infusion (LRI) or resin transfer moulding (RTM) and out-of autoclave (OOA) cure for the production of the ribs. The project will investigate the optimisation of the design through the assessment of structural performance under complex loading conditions by numerical modelling (Finite Element Method).

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If you are interested in the above project and require further information please contact Dr Paul Cunningham:

The Studentship covers tuition fees at a UK/EU rate only and provides a tax-free stipend of £16,000 p.a. for a three and a half-year duration. Applicants must hold a good honours degree (first class or an upper second) in Engineering. The start date for the project is expected to be July 2013. Applications can be accessed online by clicking the Apply link below.

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