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Thermal Simulation and Testing of Expanded Metal Foils for Lightning Protection

  • Magazine Feature Article
  • 14AERP02_01
Published February 01, 2014 by SAE International in United States
  • English

With the implementation of major aircraft structures fabricated from carbon fiber reinforced plastic materials, lightning protection has become a more complicated issue for designers and engineers to solve.

Cracking of coatings and surface layers is evident on a variety of structures including buildings, automobiles, and aircraft. In some situations, the appearance of the coated or painted surface is degraded and the aesthetic appeal is lessened. However, in others, such as composite aircraft structures, paint cracking is both aesthetically undesirable and potentially deleterious from the electromagnetic effects aspect.

In the latter case, cracks can propagate into the structure or around fasteners, providing a path for moisture and other environmental species to enter, resulting in corrosion and degradation of the protection measures including expanded metal foils (EMF) required for lightning abatement and safe operation. Consequently, over several decades there have been numerous efforts and investigations concerning the degradation of surface layer protection schemes.