Machine Husbandry: On Nitinol

If every component of an aerial vehicle were constructed from Nitinol, the results would be disastrous. Some stiffness, especially in rocket and turbine elements, is vital. Problems are encountered at the juncture between alloys with lots of flexion and metals with little. Tensile variability would have to be integrated in a planar Nitinol element in the forging process.

Beyond this, a mortise and tenon design will also present obstacles. A ‘slippery-vise’ design has the potential to overcome these obstacles by enabling aerospace designers to develop unbroken, single-piece Nitinol skins for craft — an ultra-light composite outer layer and a rigid inner kernel for componentry and engine blocks.

The ‘slippery-vise’ design would guarantee the preservation of Nitinol skin integrity when encountering G-Forces when the craft is mass-driven, as the ‘vise’ will be situated perpendicularly to the launch rail.

Many issues related to Nitinol skin development result from design orthodoxy that presupposes human occupancy. Most obstacles could be overcome readily if next-generation craft were commandeered remotely; seals are a design-bane.

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