Award-winning technology can help aerospace manufacturers achieve lower weight and emissions targets
Alvant has recently been awarded Materials Application of the Year at the British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEA). The prestigious award was presented to Alvant after judges recognised evidence of how the properties of its aluminium matrix composite (AMC) material were exploited to solve a design challenge the ‘Large Landing Gear of the Future’ aerospace project facilitated by Innovate UK and lead by Safran Landing Systems.
Alvant’s contribution to the project, funded by £513,000 R&D support from Innovate UK, enabled the design, manufacture and testing of an AMC brake rod which achieved a 30 per cent weight reduction over an equivalent titanium component, while maintaining a comparable strength to steel. The brake rod, made from an AMC variant known as ‘AlXal’, also offers mobility, sustainability, performance and precision, with a high level of safety and reliability.
Alvant’s commercial director, Richard Thompson said: “We are thrilled to have won. The aerospace industry is one of many to face the challenge of finding suitable materials that will reduce weight and improve efficiency, whilst maintaining reliability and lowering whole-life ownership costs.”
The project looked at how AMCs can challenge traditional materials in the design and manufacture of landing gear assemblies, by making use of new materials and manufacturing methods – as well as developing technologies that will reduce fuel burn and noise, while also improving reliability and lowering costs.
Current landing gear systems are typically stronger and heavier than necessary, accounting for approximately three per cent of aircraft weight, with a corresponding effect on fuel consumption. The materials used need to provide high strength, high stiffness and low weight with the potential for enhanced damage tolerance while maintaining specific thermal and electrical properties.
Image shows Alvant’s commercial director, Richard Thompson, collecting the Materials Application of the Year award at the 2019 BEEAs.
Photographer credit: Karla Gowlett/Beea