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The University of Southampton

Lightweight Structures

Lightweight Structures encompasses research and education related to the design, analysis, optimisation and manufacturing of weight and performance critical structures.

 The application areas cover maritime, offshore, civil, automotive, and aerospace engineering as well as applications in energy with a special focus on sustainable energy technologies such as tidal and wind energy. Applications and problems that include dynamic response, high strain rates and coupled fluid structure interaction are addressed, and all aspects of analysis such as vibration, stability and postbuckling, fatigue, fracture and dynamic/transient response behaviour are being utilised. Advanced structural testing methodologies including embedded sensors and data rich full field imaging methods for measurement of deformation and thermal fields are employed, and the results are used to inform and validate computational model predictions that include the meso, subcomponent and full structural scale levels. The material systems and technologies addressed cover the range from construction materials such as reinforced concrete, steel and lightweight alloys, low density metallic and polymer foam materials, and last but not least advanced fibre reinforced composite materials. The research is typically interdisciplinary or cross disciplinary by nature, and the objectives are achieved through combined efforts encompassing state of the art experimental techniques as well as sophisticated analytical and computational methods including CFD and finite element analysis.

We are studying the applicability and qualifying the performance of multifunctional power structures for Mars Rovers
ExoMars rover (courtesy of ESA)
We have an Advanced Technology Partnership with the RNLI
Atlantic 85 RIB

Ultrasound System (C-Scan)

This ultrasonic technique can be used as a non-destructive means for detecting damage and defects within a material. The suite includes a range of transducers for use with different materials, thicknesses and probing depths.


Ultrasonic Sciences Ltd (USL) custom built system including:

  • USL C scan and data acquisition software
  • 500MHz analogue – digital converter
  • Range of Transducers including: 2.25, 5, 10, 15, 30 and 50 MHz some focussed and unfocussed.
Composite Manufacturing Facilities
Composite Manufacturing Facilities

Composite Manufacturing Facilities

Facilities for lay-up using prepreg, wet lay-up and resin infusions. Flexible heated curing space for large scale manufacturing.

  • Computer controlled autoclave, up to 5 bar (with additional 1 bar from vacuum pump) and temperature cure up to 180 ºC
  • Computer controlled oven, up to 1 bar with vacuum pump and temperature cure up to 250 ºC
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