Home page

The aim of the SSES

The aim of the SSES (Smart Structures with Embedded Sensors) MATERA (an ERA-NET on materials) project is to improve the competitiveness of European companies engaged in both the engineering and production of high technology sustainable transport components and systems through collaborative research and technological development. Through a value chain of research groups, engineering and manufacturing companies it will exploit the potential of a novel structural health monitoring (SHM) system for aeronautical and automotive industry applications via conceptual and preliminary design, and the development of smart high performance composite structures.

The ambitious target of SSES will be reached by achieving multi-level Science and Technology objectives:

  • Basic Level (Fundamental Research): i) understanding a complementary operation of two types of optical fiber sensors: highly birefringent (polarimetric) fiber sensors and fiber Bragg grating sensors, ii) testing and modelling the mechanical strength of smart composite structures,
  • Intermediate Level (Applied RTD): i) testing, validation and optimization procedures for preliminary designing and prototyping of reliable and robust composite structures with health monitoring systems, ii) optimal positioning and protection of sensors in a composite structure,
  • Final Level (Engineering and Prototyping): proof-of-concept of smart fibre-reinforced epoxy matrix composite component prototypes for the transport industry, including helicopter rotor blades, ii) prototype sensing system using a hybrid sensing approach.

The expected breakthroughs and innovation will contain: i) a novel hybrid approach to sensing which has not been utilised before and has the advantage that it overcomes the limitations of the individual sensors, ii) continuous structural health monitoring over the lifecycle of the component, including the manufacturing phase in line with a Better, Faster, Cheaper (BFC) production paradigm. Currently, about 25% of an aircraft’s Life Cycle Cost (LCC) is spent in inspections. The proposed SHM will minimize LCC by: i) minimizing inspection costs, ii) increasing aircraft availability by improving efficiency and accuracy of maintenance. The outcomes of this project are not limited to helicopter rotor blades and will include potential licensing of SMH IP in future commercial aerospace, marine and wind energy applications.