Bastian Schaefer and his team at Airbus have a vision of a more sustainable future for aviation, a future that should incorporate social as well as environmental and economic value. To help make this dream a reality, have come up with a disruptive structure that mimics the design of bone, or more accurately a skeleton, somewhat as it occurs in nature.
Schaefer explains what this means:
So how does nature build its components and structures? So nature is very clever. It puts all the information into these small building blocks, which we call DNA. And nature builds large skeletons out of it. So we see a bottom-up approach here, because all the information, as I said, are inside the DNA. And this is combined with a top-down approach, because what we are doing in our daily life is we train our muscles, we train our skeleton, and it’s getting stronger. And the same approach can be applied to technology as well. So our building block is carbon nanotubes, for example, to create a large, rivet-less skeleton at the end of the day. How this looks in particular, you can show it here. So imagine you have carbon nanotubes growing inside a 3D printer, and they are embedded inside a matrix of plastic, and follow the forces which occur in your component. And you’ve got trillions of them. So you really align them to wood, and you take this wood and make morphological optimization, so you make structures, sub-structures, which allows you to transmit electrical energy or data. And now we take this material, combine this with a top-down approach, and build bigger and bigger components.
New design rules and 3D printing will help to fulfill the dreams of the Airbus team in producing aircraft designs that are stronger and yet weigh less, leading to the obvious cost and environmental benefits.