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Inflatable steel: a technique with unlimited potential (from design to the aerospace sector)

โ€œLess weight, more opportunitiesโ€. This is the motto that animated a Polish-Swiss design team when developing a new method for creating light and strong steel objects.

What is it about?

The combination of design and science has given rise to a new technique, called free inner pressure deformation (FiDU). This mode requires that the steel sheets are cut with the laser and then welded by robots which guarantee maximum precision. Finally, through a simple valve, they are inflated to obtain a solid and three-dimensional shape.

Design, comfort and uniqueness

The technique initially involved the production of furniture, made as rolled tubes of thin sheet steel. The models thus obtained can also be inflated by a simple bicycle pump, since they do not require a mold that models steel during inflation. This means that the metal will naturally change shape, showing the unique result of its own deformation.

The advantages

The innovative FiDU technique also proves to be more effective than the concept of flat-pack furniture, that is, the furniture to be assembled. Uninflated FiDU furniture takes up incredibly small spaces and can significantly limit transport costs and emissions.

Furthermore, the use of steel proves to be a winning choice, thanks to its properties of strength, versatility and flexibility.

An answer for building and construction

And the possibilities seem limitless. By translating this technique into the construction sector, different applications can be imagined. First of all, and already built, that of a small bridge obtained through an inflatable steel structure.

The group is also developing a safety barrier for motorways. The pressurization will allow to obtain the same deformation of the current barriers, absorbing the impact and protecting motorists. And this barrier will require only a fraction of the material currently used for this purpose, thus reducing the environmental impact of motorways.

For wind and aerospace

But the wind sector also seems interested. The team has in fact built a small turbine that promises to contain the costs of adopting this renewable energy. The steel blades made with the FiDU technique have costs much lower than those of the plexiglass or carbon fiber blades. And they also ensure a longer service life.

And the ambition of the inventors does not end on earth, but points to space. The qualities of the material, enhanced by the FiDU technique, make inflatable steel a valuable ally for the aerospace industry.

Source: World Steel Association

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