ARL contractor wins SAMPE® Award for composite materials

July 12, 2011

Story Highlights

  • ARL WMRD mechanical engineer won first place in 2011 Society for the Advancement of material and Process Engineering Student Symposium International competition in May.
  • The research evaluates ability of nanotube networks to sense and distinguish types of damage.
  • SAMPE provides information on new materials and processing technologies.

Zachary Melrose, a mechanical engineer within the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Composite and Hybrid Materials Branch of the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, won first place in the 2011 Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) Student Symposium International Competition in May.

His research, "Damage Sensing in Adhesively-Bonded Composite/ Steel Joints Using Carbon Nanotubes," evaluates the ability of carbon nanotube networks to sense and distinguish different types of damage in adhesively-bonded hybrid composite-to-metal joints. Melrose demonstrated that different failure mechanisms possess a distinct resistance response, proving the ability to not only sense failure in situ, but also to distinguish the extent and nature of the damage that occurs.

Although not originally sponsored by the military, this work could lead to longer lifecycles for military weapon systems by being able to accurately predict how and when structural joints between composites and metals will fail.

Composite materials are strong and not as heavy as metallic materials that often make up the exterior of major weapon systems like aircraft and tanks, but the two most common ways of joining composites to steel structures are through bolting and/or adhesion (gluing); however, both have drawbacks to detect and repair sustained damage to the system, he explained. By incorporating Carbon Nanotubes into the adhesive, it's possible to create a nonintrusive damage sensing network to monitor damage accumulation system that overcomes the challenges inherit in the traditional methods of joining materials.

His approach is a preventative maintenance solution, he said.

The SAMPE, an international professional member society, provides information on new materials and processing technologies through chapter technical presentations, two journal publications, symposia and commercial expositions in which professionals can exchange ideas and air their views. As the only technical society encompassing all fields of endeavor in materials and processes, SAMPE provides a unique and valuable forum for scientists, engineers, designers and academicians.

Melrose, a Vorhees, N.J. native, graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware (UD) in February, and plans to continue his graduate studies this fall at UD toward a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) contractor with ARL. The Department of Energy established ORISE in 1992 to address national needs by assessing and analyzing environmental and health effects of radiation, beryllium and other hazardous materials; maintaining medical and national security radiation emergency management and response capabilities; and managing education programs to help ensure a robust supply of scientists, engineers and technicians to meet future science and technology needs.


Last Update / Reviewed: July 12, 2011