The next generation of aerospace requires the next generation of NDE

Analysis by the UK National Composites Centre (‘UK NCC’) has shown that the Adaptix technology matches Computed Tomography (‘CT’) in identifying failure modes relevant to composite aerostructures.

The translation from healthcare to NDE solutions has won Adaptix multiple InnovateUK grants in the aerospace composite field for fixed and rotary wing solutions in manufacture and maintenance with interest and support from several aerospace primes.

– A transformational NDE solution to meet the emerging challenges of the aerospace sector

– Aerostructures have changed … but testing methods have not: ‘Tap-testing’, penetrating dyes, ultrasound and 2D X-ray introduced for aluminum airframes are not as efficient or effective in detecting failure modes in composite structures.

– CT scanners are not an economic or practicable solution: CT scanners are costly and require a shielded room and 3-phase power, and the capital cost of the CT itself is often a fraction of the total cost, particularly when considering the room fit-out, maintenance and the power used by the CT and the (often required) air conditioning. Detaching parts from the aerostructure and taking them to the CT, and or breaking the production workflow is not practicable.

– X-ray requires hangar clearance .

– Inspectors are highly-skilled, take time to train and are hard to recruit resulting in a testing bottleneck.

– Tomorrow’s aerostructures (UAM, UAV) will likely incur more landings per hour of use and have more distributed operations, increasing the need for NDE resources and staff, compounding the problems above.

AdaptixNDE:

– Has been proven by the UK NCC to be well suited to find the failure modes typical in composite structures (voids, variation in weave).

– Is affordable, low-power and can be deployed as a fully-shielded unit in a hangar or on a production line with a single-phase power supply.

– Is low-flux due its medical heritage, reducing the required cordon distances if used un-shielded and brough to the aerostructure

– Is fast and can be automated to allow inspectors to be more productive.

– Produces a digitized output that is consistent with the direction of travel for ‘NDE4.0’ as part of ‘Industry 4.0’.

AdaptixNDE allows evaluation to start earlier in the manufacturing process, for instance when a composite device is still in ‘dry’ form, allowing assessment before a further magnitude of cost has been incurred and transforming the economic and environmental cost of waste. As importantly, identifying items for re-work earlier in the process frees up production capability for products that can be sold rather than scrapped – AdaptixNDE offers the chance to realize productivity enhancements.

Metal Additive Manufacture offers the chance to transform the economics of aerostructures and their maintenance. In order to achieve this in a regulated industry requires a test strategy. AdaptixNDE is working with industry primes to validate the Quality Assurance of Metal Additive Manufactured parts to deliver a fast, deployable and affordable solution that can be partnered with production systems.

As composite parts become more prevalent and aerostructures age, so will the threat of counterfeit ingress impacting revenues and potentially compromising safety. Use of AdaptixNDE’s sytems can allow the inclusion of a Physically Unclonable Feature (a ‘PUF’ or ‘3D fingerprint’) to enable life-long proof of authenticity. AdaptixNDE is working with the UK National Composites Centre to prove the solution will maintain the mechanical performance of each part.

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