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A former is an object, such as a template,
gauge Gauge ( or ) may refer to: Measurement * Gauge (instrument), any of a variety of measuring instruments * Gauge (firearms) * Wire gauge, a measure of the size of a wire ** American wire gauge, a common measure of nonferrous wire diameter, es ...
or
cutting Cutting is the separation or opening of a physical object, into two or more portions, through the application of an acutely directed force. Implements commonly used for cutting are the knife and saw, or in medicine and science the scalpel and ...
die, which is used to form something such as a
boat A boat is a watercraft of a large range of types and sizes, but generally smaller than a ship, which is distinguished by its larger size, shape, cargo or passenger capacity, or its ability to carry boats. Small boats are typically found on inl ...
's hull. Typically, a former gives shape to a structure that may have complex
curvature In mathematics, curvature is any of several strongly related concepts in geometry. Intuitively, the curvature is the amount by which a curve deviates from being a straight line, or a surface deviates from being a plane. For curves, the canon ...
. A former may become an integral part of the finished structure, as in an aircraft
fuselage The fuselage (; from the French ''fuselé'' "spindle-shaped") is an aircraft's main body section. It holds crew, passengers, or cargo. In single-engine aircraft, it will usually contain an engine as well, although in some amphibious aircraft ...
, or it may be removable, being using in the construction process and then discarded or re-used.

# Aircraft formers

Formers are used in the construction of aircraft
fuselage The fuselage (; from the French ''fuselé'' "spindle-shaped") is an aircraft's main body section. It holds crew, passengers, or cargo. In single-engine aircraft, it will usually contain an engine as well, although in some amphibious aircraft ...
, of which a typical fuselage has a series from the
nose A nose is a protuberance in vertebrates that houses the nostrils, or nares, which receive and expel air for respiration alongside the mouth. Behind the nose are the olfactory mucosa and the sinuses. Behind the nasal cavity, air next passes th ...
to the
empennage The empennage ( or ), also known as the tail or tail assembly, is a structure at the rear of an aircraft that provides stability during flight, in a way similar to the feathers on an arrow.Crane, Dale: ''Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms, third ed ...
, typically perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft. The primary purpose of formers is to establish the shape of the fuselage and reduce the column length of stringers to prevent instability. Formers are typically attached to
longeron In engineering, a longeron and stringer is the load-bearing component of a framework. The term is commonly used in connection with aircraft fuselages and automobile chassis. Longerons are used in conjunction with stringers to form structural ...
s, which support the skin of the aircraft. The "former-and-longeron" technique (also called stations and stringers) was adopted from boat construction, and was typical of
light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that can be perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nanometres (nm), corresponding to frequencies of 750–420 t ...
aircraft built until the advent of
structural skin Monocoque ( ), also called structural skin, is a structural system in which loads are supported by an object's external skin, in a manner similar to an egg shell. The word ''monocoque'' is a French term for "single shell". First used for boats, ...
s, such as
fiberglass Fiberglass ( American English) or fibreglass ( Commonwealth English) is a common type of fiber-reinforced plastic using glass fiber. The fibers may be randomly arranged, flattened into a sheet called a chopped strand mat, or woven into glass cl ...
and other
composite materials A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material which is produced from two or more constituent materials. These constituent materials have notably dissimilar chemical or ...
. Many of today's light aircraft, and homebuilt aircraft in particular, are still designed in this way.

# Disposable formers

A former may instead be a temporary shape over which a structure is built, the former subsequently being discarded in whole or part, as follows: *
Strip-built Strip-built, or "strip-plank epoxy", is a method of boat building. Also known as cold molding, the strip-built method is commonly used for canoes and kayaks, but also suitable for larger boats. The process involves securing narrow, flexible strips ...
boat construction uses formers over which thin plank strips are applied and glued.Boat building with strip planking
/ref> in some cases, some of the formers may be incorporated as structural ribs. * In
civil engineering Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewa ...
,
bridge building A bridge is a structure built to span a physical obstacle (such as a body of water, valley, road, or rail) without blocking the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle, which is usually someth ...
, and
architecture Architecture is the art and technique of designing and building, as distinguished from the skills associated with construction. It is both the process and the product of sketching, conceiving, planning, designing, and constructing building ...
, arches may be built upon a wooden former, which is removed once the keystone is securely in place.

# References

Boat building Aircraft components {{Aviation-stub