The Structures and Materials focus area of the SBA NNR investigates research opportunities for advanced aircraft design, addressing weight, durability, strength, manufacturability, cost, design, materials selection, fabrication, inspection and repair, maintenance, and other material development and optimization considerations for Naval aircraft operating in a sea-based aviation environment. Innovative research and technology is being provided for five sub-areas:
• Structural Mode Characterization
• High-Loading, Lightweight Structural Materials
• Advanced Structural Concepts
• Materials Degradation/
• Structural Protection /Maintenance
As part of this program ONR has brought together researches in government, academia and industry to study material degradation due to corrosion and fatigue and their combined effects. VEXTEC had been working to create software that will serve as an integration tool to link the results of the material degradation research into a usable structural analysis tool. Fatigue failure due to corrosion is a multi-disciplinary, multi-scale problem that needs to integrate several mechanisms for accurate simulation of the damage state and better prediction of failure risk. The Navy wants to take advantage of all available corrosion knowledge, methods, models and algorithms to fulfill the SBA NNR vision. The overall concept is to develop a tool set which has a library of different material microstructures, damage models and solving routines to simulate corrosion fatigue failure. In addition, it will allow users to integrate their individual computational damage models or their solving routines in the software tool. The analogy here is that most commercial finite element analysis (FEA) software tools have a library of their own different element types and solver routines for structural analysis, but also allow users to link their own special solving routines and specialized elements.
The program is an applied research effort that provides software for collaboration of the basic researchers such that the format of their research (input and output) must be developed as a fundamental part of structural analysis and not an afterthought. This serves three purposes; 1) allows basic research the freedom to explore new concepts, 2) forces basic research to integrate with other research and 3) identifies deficiencies in the overall research landscape that must be addressed to create a usable corrosion fatigue analysis tool.
VEXTEC (http://www.vextec.com) was founded in 2000 and has developed its patented technology primarily through Department of Defense Small Business Innovative Research programs. VEXTEC offers its Virtual Life Management software and services to a variety of commercial and government customers.