27 March 2012
EADS won the 2012 JEC Innovation Award in the aeronautics category – a prize granted by the JEC group for achievements in the area of composite materials – for its Laser Ultrasonics Composite Inspection Equipment (LUCIE).
JEC is the world’s largest composite industry organization, and its award ceremony took place today during the JEC Europe Show in Paris, where 13 companies and their partners received awards in different categories that also included bio composites, automotive and software.
EADS Innovation Works, the research & technology teams from Airbus Nantes and the French Ecole des Mines worked on LUCIE, along with iPhoton, which offers industrial laser-ultrasonic systems for the aeronautics industry, and Spanish engineering company Tecnatom.
“EADS is very pleased to be recognized for this achievement and it represents the EADS-wide spirit of innovation of our dedicated and talented team members,” said Jean Botti, the EADS Chief Technical Officer. “Commercial applications for LUCIE look very promising and we look forward to exploiting these possibilities to the fullest extent.”
LUCIE’s capabilities are being demonstrated during evaluations at the Technocampus site in Nantes, France.
LUCIE enables non-contact and non-destructive inspections and will be used to detect sub-surface defects in composite structures. The machine offers a completely new inspection means, replacing current ultrasound techniques that require direct contact or the use of a coupling agent, a fluid such as water or gel which acts as an interface. Such current-day processes typically require the inspected element to be sprayed with water jets or immersed in a water tank.
The new laser-based inspection technology is used with an articulated arm equipped with a device emitting laser beams to generate ultrasonic waves without being in contact with the composites. This articulated arm gives flexibility in movements and a control of the technology which is especially adapted to the inspection of composite parts of large dimensions and with complex geometries that could be applied tomorrow to future programs.
“EADS Innovation Works began pursuing laser-ultrasound inspection concepts in the 1990s with the goal of making quality control much more affordable as more composites were used in aircraft,” explained Didier Guedra-Degeorges, head of the EADS Innovation Works’ Technical Capability Center for structure engineering, production and aeromechanics.
LUCIE has been installed at the Nantes, France site of Technocampus, a facility that brings EADS Innovation Works, Airbus and other companies together with academic institutions and additional partners to develop technologies for complex structures.