Lightning Strike Protection
Expanded metal provides excellent protection for Lightning to Composite materials. Aircraft, automotive and wind energy structures increasingly use composite materials in their construction. While these materials provide several advantages such as weight reduction, composites do not effectively channel electrical currents that are induced by lightning strikes. Composite structures that are subject to lightning strikes require a solution for channeling electric currents that are induced by lightning. When embedded into composite structures, Micromesh LSPTM from Niles provides a channel for electric current and protects structures from lightning to composite strikes.
Micromesh LSPTM is an expanded metal foil used for aircraft lightning protection where composite materials are used. Expanded metal foil has been evaluated by most U.S. airframe manufacturers and found to have numerous advantages over other systems. Micromesh LSPTM products include a variety of configurations in both copper and aluminum to meet a wide range of design objectives.
Available in 1 meter wide coils, Micromesh LSPTM is simultaneously slit and stretched (expanded) into a single, uniform, precision structure. The manufacturing process is closely controlled to meet weight, conductivity, and open area requirements.
Composite materials are now widely used in structures of all kinds. A continuing concern is how to protect these structures from lightning to composite strikes.
Composite structures are more vulnerable to lightning strikes compared to their metal equivalents. Without proper protection, carbon composites can be significantly damaged without proper channeling for electrical currents induced by lightning strikes. Expanded copper and aluminum have been developed and proven to protect composite structures when applied in the outer layer of the composite materials.
Wind turbines are a natural lightning target due to their height. The blades are one of the most expensive components, and the longer the blade, the greater the risk of being struck by lightning.
When struck by lightning, an unprotected wind blade experiences an electric arc from the point of contact through conductive components to the root of the structure, and components may reach temperatures of up to 30,000°C (about 54,000°F) and possibly cause the blade to explode. Wind turbines continue to increase in size and Micromesh LSPTM serves to protect these composite structures from lightning strikes and ensure the functionality of the components.
Micromesh LSPTM lightning strike mesh is produced from copper and aluminum foil that is simultaneously slit and stretched (expanded) into a single, uniform, precision, non-woven structure. The manufacturing process is closely controlled to meet weight, conductivity, and open area requirements. The design provides significantly greater conductivity than woven mesh and a smoother surface to improve formability and adhesion to composite structures.