Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lamborghini's Monster

"Composite" parts? A laboratory with a "lightning-strike generator"? Come on, UW, we're not stupid! UW is sooooooo conducting modern-day Frankenstein research. If you're an out-of-work mad scientist, now you know where to apply:

UW's newly named 'Lamborghini Lab' brings composite parts to sports-car arena

Composite materials are made up of distinct parts -- plywood, fiberglass and polyester are all composite materials. High-end industries are beginning to use materials such as carbon fiber combined with epoxy, itself a composite material, to build stronger and lighter components.

"Composites are no longer the future, they are the present of structural materials for anything that's high-performance, whether it's aerospace or golf clubs or sports cars [or monsters]," said lab director [and mad scientist] Paolo Feraboli, a UW assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics [and quite insane, really]. "Monolithic materials like aluminum just won't cut it anymore."

Feraboli, a native of Italy [Transylvania], earned his undergraduate degree in Bologna and worked at Lamborghini on composite materials in 2001 and 2002. He continued a relationship with Lamborghini while establishing the UW's Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory in 2007.

The lab's equipment includes a lightning-strike generator for simulated lightning strikes up to 100,000 amps; a drop tower for inflicting damage from foreign objects; a pneumatic crash sled capable of crushing full-size vehicle prototypes; [an assortment of human body parts] and a high-speed video camera that can take 82,000 frames per second. Research focuses on short-term, industry-driven testing of new materials in scenarios such as bird strike, lightning strike or, in this case, crashes [mobs of angry, torch-wielding villagers].

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