Structural engineer Paolo Gaudenzi on ‘the internet of things’, structural health monitoring, and multiphysics
What are smart materials? How can engineering principles be applied in materials science? How are composite materials different from conventional ones? These and other questions are answered by Professor of Aerospace Structures within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of the Università di Roma La Sapienza, Paolo Gaudenzi.
Structures are mechanical components and mechanical components are in all engineering systems: in your automobile, in an aircraft or a spacecraft or a machine. And usually they are components that are able to resist loads and offer some stiffness to the overall system. They are also able to support all the other parts of our equipment. There has been an evolution in such systems in the recent years.
Such structural components made usually by metal parts or composite materials now have acquired a different nature: they are not just able to resist loads, to be stiff, but they acquire also the capability of having some sensory capability, actuation capability, so that these components are behaving like biological components, like our body that is able to change the shape, to feel some sensation, to sense if you are under stress or under an excessive loading.
Now we have a revolution in 3D additive manufacturing. So we have a revolution in both plastic and also metal materials, metal bodies made of this material. And this new manufacturing is like 3D-printing, and what is important for an engineer, it allows to construct things that were not possible before, simply because our construction techniques did not allow such shapes.