- GLARE (material)
GLARE is a "GLAss-REinforced" Fibre Metal Laminate (FML), composed of several very thin layers of metal (usually
aluminium) interspersed with layers of glass-fibre" pre-preg", bonded together with a matrix such as epoxy. The uni-directional pre-preg layers may be aligned in different directions to suit the predicted stress conditions.
Although GLARE is a
composite material, its material properties and fabrication are very similar to bulk aluminum metal sheets. It has far less in common with composite structures when it comes to design, manufacture, inspection or maintenance. GLARE parts are constructed and repaired using mostly conventional metal material techniques.
Its major advantages over conventional aluminium are:
* better "
damage tolerance" behaviour (especially impactand metal fatigue)
Furthermore, it is possible to "tailor" the material during design and manufacture such that the number, type and alignment of layers can suit the local stresses and shapes throughout the aircraft. This allows the production of double-curved sections, complex integrated panels or very large sheets, for example.
While a simple manufactured sheet of GLARE will be more expensive than an equivalent sheet of aluminium, considerable production savings can be made using the aforementioned optimisation. A structure properly designed for GLARE will be significantly lighter and less complex than an equivalent metal structure, will require less inspection and maintenance and enjoy a much longer lifetime-till failure, making it a cheaper, lighter and safer option overall.
GLARE is currently (2004) the most successful FML, patented by
Akzo Nobelin 1987 and now entering commercial application on the Airbus A380, which has recently received a full type certificate from the FAA and European Aviation Authorities. The patent cites as inventors Roebroeks and Vogelesang, two former professors at the aerospace engineering faculty of Delft University of Technology, where much of the R&D for GLARE was done in the 1970s and 1980s.
The fruition of FML development marks the end of a long history of research starting in 1945 at
Fokker, where earlier bonding experience at de Havilland inspired investigation into the improved properties of bonded aluminium laminates compared to monolithicaluminium.
NASAinterest in reinforcing metal parts with composite materials as part of the Space Shuttleprogramme led to the introduction of fibres to the bond layers, and the concept of Fibre Metal Laminates was born.
Further research and co-operation with Delft University, the Dutch Aerospace Laboratory [http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationaal_Lucht-_en_Ruimtevaartlaboratorium NLR] ,
Alcoaand various other companies and institutions led to the first FML, the Aramid-fibre based ARALL. This proved to have some cost, manufacturing and application problems (while it had a very high tensile strength; compression, off-axis loading and cyclic loading proved problematic).
As a footnote, GLARE is also the material used in the
ECOS3blast-resistant Unit Load Device( [http://www.galaxyavsec.com/ECOS_Main.htm] ). This is the only commercially available container shown to completely contain the explosion and fire resulting from a bomb such as that used over Lockerbie.
Currently Glare is being produced for the
Airbus A380at Stork Fokker in the Netherlands. Stork Fokker has opened a brand new facility next to its existing facilities in Papendrecht the Netherlands. There Stork Fokker is able to produce Glare sheets of 4,5 x 11,5M including the milling of doors windows etc. on a state-of-the-art 5 axis milling machine with a movable bed.r
Glare has also been used in manufacturing of the cargo doors of the latest models of the
C-17 Globemaster III.
*Vermeeren, Coen (Editor) "Around Glare: A New Aircraft Material in Context" Published by Springer, August 1, 2002 ISBN 1402007787
* [http://www.tudelft.nl/live/pagina.jsp?id=ef65dfd9-4bdc-4e09-a4f2-8b092d3d0dde&lang=en Research on Glare at the University of Delft]
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