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01/29/2013

Speeding hybrid wing production

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    A new method of manufacturing a hybrid wing design could lead aircraft that use half the fuel a conventional airplane.
    While it has long been known that replacing the current tubular aircraft design with a "manta ray-type design" would significantly reduce fuel consumption, manufacturing the craft has been problematic because of difficulties in maintaining cabin pressure. It is easier to build a sturdy tube than the flatter shape required for the hybrid wing design.
    The idea is to address these issues using a manufacturing process composed of preformed carbon composite rods covered with carbon fiber and stitched into place. Cross members will then be built by stitching fabric over foam strips, followed by impregnating the fabric with an epoxy to create a stiff composite structure. Sections of fuselage built with the technique will be able to hold up to the sort of forces exerted on real aircraft, with the additional bonus of the stitching stopping any cracks from spreading when the pressure causes parts to fail.
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