Chapter 8: The Fibres that Hold an Innovation Network: An Analysis of Knowledge-sharing in the Glare Network
8. The ﬁbres that hold an innovation network:1 an analysis of knowledgesharing in the Glare network Elco van Burg, Erik van Raaij and Hans Berends During the 1950s, failure of aircrafts due to material fatigue was becoming a nightmare. In 1954, two De Havilland Comets crashed. Investigation of the wreckage of the ﬁrst Comet established metal fatigue as the cause. Aluminium, the metal commonly used for the skin of aircrafts, is fairly susceptible to fatigue. Fatigue cracks can cause weaknesses in the aircraft structure, which can result in accidents. Aircraft need to be inspected frequently for fatigue cracks, corrosion and impact damage. These inspections and repairs, if needed, are very costly because the aircraft cannot be operated at that time. The failure of aircrafts, due to metal fatigue, encouraged aircraft manufacturers to improve their structures. Strengthening the structure by adding more aluminium leads to heavier aircraft, however, which results in higher fuel costs. In a search for solutions to fatigue, corrosion, and impact damage, aircraft manufacturers and research labs started to look for new materials. Diﬀerent directions were promising. In the 1950s and 1960s, composites emerged as a new class of materials: modern ﬁbres such as carbon, aramid and glass embedded in plastics. This class of materials is almost insusceptible to fatigue and is relatively light. However, composites are brittle and have less favourable impact properties than aluminium. The possibilities of improving the aluminium alloy itself, the second option, were only limited. The third direction was explored by...
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