What is Central reinforced Aluminum?
CentrAl gets its strength from its design as a fiber metal laminate. The material is made up of layers of glass fiber/epoxy between layers of Aluminum. Between the layers of Aluminum and epoxy are layers of BondPreg, a fibrous material that is impregnated with a resin.
Design of a fiber metal laminate
This layering system allows the stress to be dissipated and spread evenly throughout the laminate. In tests simulating crack fatigue on aircraft wings, CentrAl preformed up from 10 to 100 times better than normal aluminum, even at stresses up to 25% higher than those imposed on it. This is due to the incorporation of the nonmetal materials sandwiched in between the aluminum. They act as shock absorbers and better distribute the force amongst the material than normal aluminum.
The material is also much lighter than conventional aluminum and even many carbon fiber composites that are currently used in aircraft design. This, again, is a product of the layering of non-metal material in between the aluminum. It lowers the overall weight of the material while increasing the strength which makes it perfect for aircraft. If the wings of a C-130 were constructed of CentrAl, it is estimated that it would reduce the overall weight of the aircraft by up to 20 percent.
This material possesses unique characteristics that offer a potentially large benefit to the world of aircraft design. Being a fiber metal laminate, it has the ability to distribute force better, which in turn makes the material stronger. This could lead to many benefits, one being a large decrease in the amount of costly maintenance done on aircraft.
1. Chris Kjelgaard "New Material Could Revolutionize Aircraft Maintenance"
2. Atlas Group "Latest Materials Used for Aircraft Manufacturing"