Earth, Wind & Water

Ramblings of an Earthling, Laserite and small boat sailor

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wonder Material Invented!

I haven't posted much lately.   Partly it's because I've moved and changed jobs, but mostly it's because I've been inventing and perfecting a marvelous new material.  Everyone knows that high performance boats are made out of carbon fiber these days, but my new wonder material has some properties that really set it apart.  The aerospace industry is going to love this stuff!  I foresee widespread structural use of this material in airplanes well into the future.

Since it's the only part of a Laser you can make out of fancy materials, I fashioned a tiller and extension out of this stuff, clearly a part of the boat worth lavishing a large amount of time, money and effort over.  It's been superb.

First it's isotropic. That means has the same strength in all directions.  Imagine that!  No more delamination.  When cracks form, they start at the surface, where you can see them.  A big chunk of it has the same properties all the way through.  Quality control will be much easier - no bad layups!

It is ductile.  That means it bends before it breaks!  Perfect for when I mess up my much imitated sit-on-the-tiller-extension-tack maneuver (also invented by me, by the way).  In testing, my tiller extension has bent, but it has not broken.  I just sail on and straighten it over my knee when I'm off the water.

Related to ductility is malleability.  That means, within reason, you can smash it into the shape you want.  I didn't quite line up my holes for the u-joint rivet, so I just jammed the fastener in there and squashed the material into shape.

It's also heat-treatable.  That means you can trade off the strength (how much force it can withstand before it deforms) against the toughness (how much energy it absorbs before it breaks) of the material.  As the strength goes up, you lose ductility and toughness.  No more messing about with with laminate schedules.  Just fashion your whole assembly, bang it in the oven at the right temperature and then dump it in water or oil to quench it.

Finishing it is a breeze too.   You can just hook it up to a battery, drop it in a bucket of chemicals, and a hard, highly corrosion resistant coating forms.  I call this anodizing.

The only thing left to do now is come up for a name for this stuff.  I'm trying to decide between aluminum or aluminium.  Which do you prefer?

Thanks to my friend, IlliniRob1 for the inspiration for this post.

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