50: Aeronautics :strong links with industry

When the UTC-Roberval Lab was created, back in 2000, by the merger of the LG2mS (Mechanical engineering and for Materials and Structures) and some other research units, it was placed under a joint hierarchy: UTC and the CNRS. So, what are key features of the Roberval research Lab? Firstly, we can cite the noteworthy, excellent reputation of the research scientists’ teams and the strong links they have built with a variety of industrial sectors.

50: Aeronautics :strong links with industry

Key-word: Weight-saving structures

Full Professor Salima Bouvier is Director of the UTC Engineering Department, which was created following a merger of two UTC course majors: Mechanical Systems Engineering (GSU) and Mechanical Engineering (GM). She has been working personally since 2015 in the Material and Surface Research team (UTC-Roberval lab) on a project Optimum, financed by the national research funding agency ANR, in a partnership with Airbus Industries and the Region Hauts-de-France.

On what sorts of materials do the UTC-Roberval Material and Surface research scientists work ? "Well, they focus mainly on three classes of materials. 1° metallic alloys, 2° polymers and 3° 3D composites. In the special field of material optimization, as needed for transportation, the key word is to identify, assemble and use weight-saving structures, to comply with the European targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions", explains Salima Bouvier. Where aeronautics is concerned, these environmental concerns have motivated the setting up of several materials-intensive research programmes.

What are the paths you explore to find and develop weight-saving structures? "Certain metal parts can be replaced by composites with organic matrices, and these are lighter. This proves possible when the systems are operating in a cold zone. When, however, we move to a hot environment, in regard to material properties, we need to revert to metallic alloys and even ceramics", underscores Prof Bouvier.

The drawback to these new materials is their cost. So, you must think about reducing costs as much as possible? "Indeed, the cost of procuring, preparing, assembling and installing certain alloys such as nickel-based alloys is high to the point that certain segments can be replaced by titanium alloys, even though this entails bi-material assemblies", she details.

Evolutionary trends today in of material solutions for aeronautics marks the outset of current research into bi-material assembly processes, for example titanium and nickel by welding, or, a composite and titanium which calls for a mechanical assembly. This is a major challenge for the aeronautics sector. Witness the Optimum project with welding of titanium and nickel. It is a long term projects financed by the French national research funding agency (ANR), FRAE (the French Research Foundation for Aeronautics and Space), the Region Hauts-de-France, Airbus Industries and ACB, one of the equipment manufacturers specialists in material welding techniques for the aeronautical sector.