Advanced Composites: Flying High in Aerospace
When it comes to advanced composites, the name says a lot. The word “advanced” is defined by Merriam Webster as “being beyond others in progress or ideas.” This describes how composite materials are coming together to form the future of the aerospace industry, with the ultimate destination being fuel efficiency.
The growing reliance on carbon fiber composites in manufacturing aircraft components for military and commercial aircraft has been a key driver for the increasing use of advanced composites within the aerospace market. The industry demands high-performance materials with high mechanical and thermal properties while also demanding reduced weight and production costs. These are key factors for material selection in the aerospace industry.
Advanced composites pedal past metal
When compared to traditional materials like aluminum alloy and metal, advanced composites such as carbon fiber provide a high-performance solution to create lighter weight, yet higher strength structural aircraft components. It also has the ability to reduce the carbon footprint by creating improved fuel efficiency in high-flying applications.
The lightweight quality of carbon fiber is matched by its accompanying strength, which is why advanced composites are critical to the future of the aerospace industry. Used by leading aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, additional benefits of the reinforcing fibers are its corrosion resistance, reduced manufacturing costs, ability to withstand high temperature and high-pressure environments, and its stiffness and flexibility.
Strength in parts make a stronger whole
These benefits have led to the adoption of carbon fiber composites in manufacturing structural aircrafts parts, from wings and seats to overhead compartments, brackets, and more. The ability to achieve lighter weight structural parts is the reason advanced composites are replacing metal components in many aspects of aircraft manufacturing. It has also exposed the power of carbon fibers to additional industries such as automotive, energy, marine, and infrastructure.
Better fuel efficiency isn’t the only means of cost savings through the use of advanced composites in aerospace manufacturing. While composites materials may cost more to produce than traditional metal or non-reinforced plastics, their increased lifespan with improved fuel economy, together with reduced manufacturing costs, can outweigh the upfront cost over the product lifespan. This makes carbon fiber a viable solution that aerospace manufacturers are exploring more and more.
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