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What is the overall goal of your project?

When assembling large aerospace structures, gaps and misalignment of mating parts often occurs due to dimensional variations in the manufacturing and fabrication process. This is especially true with relatively large and flexible composite structures. Typically custom shims are used to fill the gaps and align mating parts. This is a time consuming and costly process.

One proposed solution is to use shape memory alloys (SMA) to create shim-like structures that can be inserted into a gap and when thermally activated expand to fill a wide range of gaps and align the mating surfaces. This concept could potentially eliminate the need for many custom fabricated shims for each gap or misalignment. When thermally set the ‘shims’ remains physically stiff and can structurally support the joint preventing deformation when fasteners are installed and throughout the lifetime of the part.

In this project students will design variable thickness SMA devices and develop a process for device fabrication, component and assembly test methods, and factory installation methods for a range of constant and variable thickness gaps. Test methods include assessing the final gap stiffness and response to assembly and in-service loads. 

What is the key challenge your project is trying to solve?

The key challenge is to design variable thickness SMA devices and develop a process for device fabrication, component and assembly test methods, and factory installation methods for a range of constant and variable thickness gaps.

What is the impact on society your project has?

If the project is successful, it will save time and reduce the cost of manufacturing aerospace structures.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. I. Karaman

Targeted Engineering Majors: All majors are welcome.