Nondestructive X-ray methods for characterization of advanced aerospace materials
Advanced materials for use in the aerospace industry are presently being developed and applied at an astonishing rate. This pace is driven by the need for materials that can withstand higher operating temperatures and loads, yet remain cost competitive. The future in NDE is influenced by the increased performance demands on materials, while on the other hand, a new need has developed for inspection of old materials in aging aircraft. As the performance demands of aerospace materials push nearer and nearer the theoretical limit for strength, the allowed flaw size in traditional materials is driven smaller, making quality control more stringent. The promise of improved performance characteristics is also generating strong interest in other materials such as: exotic alloys, ceramics and reinforced composites. The last two issues involve increasing the performance of materials, but the aerospace industry is also going through a critical period in that many of the original commercial airliners are reaching their design-life limits. With natural resources becoming more and more limited, the cost of replacement is often prohibitive. The next decade will bring about many changes in the aerospace industry in that cost effective airworthiness inspection programs will be developed to extend the life of older aircraft.