Airbus Fly Your Ideas teams take inspiration from the world around them – including their own gardens! Fly Your Ideas alumni Team IVY from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia were intrigued by the common ‘creeping ivy’ plant. Observing how this plant adheres to walls, team member Chamendra Amarasinghe recalls that they noticed the use of a multi-level adhesion technique. “We realised that with additive manufacturing (Metal 3D printing) we could bio-mimic a similar technique to provide better hybrid joints for titanium-carbon fibre interfaces.”
So what potential use did this have for aircraft, and for better ways to fly? “While the aviation industry is transitioning to composite material, drilling techniques from metal aircraft production are still used, which could potentially damage the composite materials. This new method could potentially reduce this risk, leading to a stronger and longer lasting joint.”
This innovative idea took Team IVY as far as the semi-finals of the 2015 edition of Fly Your Ideas. Reflecting on the experience, Chamendra says that taking part in this global student competition, “gave us a platform for our work outside of the typical learning environment. It wasn’t another lecture, assignment, or project. We weren’t competing against classmates, but rather, other really great ideas from all over the world.” He describes the scale of the learning curve that the team experienced: “Just being efficient in what we were proposing wasn’t enough, we also had to be well-rounded; we went beyond lab experiments to check for feasibility, integration, carbon footprints - the whole package.”
What next? Chamendra is now working at Airbus, having been selected for the prestigious International Graduate Programme. However, that’s not the end of the Team IVY story. After their Fly Your Ideas journey came to an end, the team continued to work on their research for another year – and now Chamendra has some exciting news to share!
”I’m thrilled to report that our paper containing some of this research was recently published in the reputed scientific journal ‘Composites Part A’. This technology is still very new and there are a lot of factors to experiment with before we can see it implemented on an aircraft, but for now, it is very interesting to see how far this promising idea goes.” We’re certain that we haven’t heard the last of this project – congratulations to Chamendra and all his teammates.