New link between internal bone structure and strength of aircraft parts

Service Engineering

Researchers from Cornell University have discovered that the internal structure of bone could possibly lead to more robust aircraft parts and better treatment of osteoporosis.

The evaluation of bone strength is currently calculated through density, with X-rays being used to identify breaks, frailties and strong points. An assessment was conducted by the researchers using state-of-the art software on the internal construction of the bone to decide what aspects influenced long term exhaustion through cyclic loading. Their research discovered that the vertical struts found in bone are a key element to bone longevity over time.

“Researchers from Cornell University have discovered that the internal structure of bone could possibly lead to more robust aircraft parts and better treatment of osteoporosis. “

A 3D printed material formed from urethane methacrylate polymer to replicate bone was developed by the Cornell researchers, and they fluctuated the thickness of the horizontal rods in its lattice to raise its fatigue life by up to one-hundred times. From this, the researchers discovered that the increase in fatigue life could have significant benefits in engineering, especially in structures like aircraft wings, in addition to the clearer link with better treatment for conditions such as osteoporosis.

Senior author, and associate professor in Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, Christopher Hernandez, stated: “If you load the bone just once, it’s all about how dense it is and density is mostly determined by the plate like struts. But if you think about how many cycles of low magnitude load something can take, these little sideways twiggy struts are what really matter. When people age, they lose these horizontal struts first, increasing the likelihood that the bone will break from multiple cyclic loads. Every wind gust that an airplane hits causes a cycle of loading on it, so an airplane wing gets loaded thousands of times during every flight. If you want to make a durable device or a vehicle that is lightweight and will last a long time, then it really matters how many cycles of loading the part can take before it breaks. And the mathematical relationship we’ve derived in this study lets somebody who’s designing one of these lattice structures balance the needs for stiffness and strength under a single load with the needs for tolerating many, many lower level load cycles.”

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