How many flights before an airplane wears out? Will a composite body panel continue to perform its role after an impact? These are the questions to be answered by research in structural integrity. Engineering materials suffer from fatigue and also age under static, dynamic, and environmental loading experienced during service.
Laboratory experiments enable the investigation of the processes and mechanisms of property degradation under these conditions. This knowledge is crucial to developing and modeling new materials and to improving the design for the safety and optimal performance of engineering structures.
Composite materials tend to possess good fatigue resistance; however, the mechanisms of failure are not well understood. At Michigan State University, the study of the fatigue life and durability prediction of composites will help engineers to design composite structures for vehicles that are more efficient — lighter, stronger, and longer lasting.