Development of high strength material for smart aircraft bolt.
Vugampore, Jean-Marie Vianney.
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Scientists are constantly seeking new and convenient non-destructive damage assessment techniques. In fact, a global market has developed for structural health monitoring products. Many of the currently available techniques are expensive and difficult to implement. An inexpensive alternative is technology based on strain memory alloys. These materials encompass a vast array of alloys, from austenitic stainless steels through to the extremely high strength TRIP steels. All, however, have in common the transformation from paramagnetic austenite to ferromagnetic martensite upon application of strain. The degree of ferromagnetism can be directly correlated to the peak strain undergone by the material. Strain memory alloys are not as expensive to manufacture as some smart materials, and in addition are capable of bearing significant load, and it is therefore possible to manufacture entire components from these alloys, thereby producing what is known as a smart component, i.e. one that is capable of doing the job of an ordinary component while at the same time assessing its own peak damage levels. A possible application of this technology is that of wing bolts for the Hercules e130 aircraft. The material usually used to manufacture the aircraft wing bolts is HSLA steel (AISI 4340). A strain memory alloy was therefore developed to match the mechanical properties of 4340 steel, while also having the requisite properties to perform the self damage-assessment. Ultra high strength TRIP steels were identified as possible candidates, and four alloys selected for investigation. These alloys were melted and then thermo-mechanically processed using a rolling operation. All alloys were tensile tested and magnetic susceptibility monitored. The final material selected possesses an ultimate tensile strength (UTS) of between 1270 and 1500 MPa with 10 to 12% elongation. The stress / strain induced transformation begins to occur before the yield point, which is important because bolts must be replaced before they fail. Compression tests were also performed, and yielded similar results to those of the tensile tests, with martensitic transformation again beginning before plastic yield. The strain induced phase transformation was confirmed not only by magnetic susceptibility measurements, but also by metallographic inspection before and after testing. A subscale Smart bolt was designed, manufactured and tested for magnetic sensitivity using a smart washer.