For aerospace manufacturers the process of validating composite weld zones is both costly and time-consuming. To simplify the existing thermocouple testing method, McNAIR Aerospace Center, supported by GKN Aerospace, partnered with Zeus to explore embedded fiber optic sensors as an alternative.
Until recently, embedding a fiber optic sensor within an aircraft part without compromising the optical fibers or threatening the part’s structural integrity was considered impossible in the aerospace industry.
To overcome this seemingly unachievable obstacle Zeus engineered a customized polymer coating using a proprietary extrusion method that provided McNAIR and their customer, GKN Aerospace, this incredible breakthrough.
With the fiber optic coating closely matched to the material of the PPS composite, we were able to achieve a near-perfect weld. The coating simply melted and flowed from the optical fiber to the surrounding composite mould, creating a tight, secure bond to the part.
Michel van Tooren, Director, McNAIR Aerospace Center
Zeus and McNAIR collaborated to reinvent the existing approach to composite weld validation in aerospace manufacturing. This optical fiber sensing application delivers significant benefits for the global aerospace industry, including: