Composite materials have been with us for a while.
Fiberglass and carbon fiber composites are well known. They’ve even helped revolutionize the aerospace industry. But what will the future of composites in aerospace look like?
The sky’s the limit with new composite materials set to shake up the industry. Let’s examine some of the benefits of composites, and get a glimpse of where things are going.
The Advantages of Composites in Aerospace
Aerospace engineers have always concentrated on the thrust-to-weight ratio.
This has meant designing more powerful engines, and lighter aircraft. This is where the importance of composite materials in the aerospace design shows itself. The beauty of composite materials is that they possess the lighter weight that aircraft designers love.
But this is not the only reason that composites work so well in the aerospace industry. They have thermal stability, great tolerance for punishing damage, and an ability to resist high impacts. Composites are also far less susceptible to fatigue and corrosion than the metals used in building aircraft.
Composite materials are also easier to assemble. This makes for a more efficient and less costly manufacturing process.
The bottom line is this: composites allow for lighter aircraft, which are also safer and more economical with fuel. They’re easier to handle in construction and can reduce cabin noise.
The Future of Composite Materials in Aerospace
So the benefits of composite materials in aerospace applications are many—but what does the future hold?
There is endless room for future growth when it comes to composites in aerospace. The demand for lighter weight materials will only increase. As aircraft fly higher and go faster, composite materials will continue to evolve.
For the time being, aircraft design includes a mixture of composites and good old-fashioned metals.
Let’s look at three ways companies are investigating the future of composites in aerospace.
Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs)
But the brittleness of ceramic materials limited their use for higher-tech applications. CMCs have the benefit of ceramic’s great thermal qualities. Therefore, CMCs are suited for building more powerful, more heat-resistant engines.
Carbon nanotube (CN) technology is another much-hyped composite material. It has many applications for future aircraft.
Carbon nanotubes retain the tensile strength of carbon fiber, but with greater flexibility. CN technology has many potential uses. These include electromagnetic shielding and cheaper wing manufacture.
Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs)
MMCs incorporate a reinforcing material, such as carbon or ceramic materials, into a metal matrix. MMCs are investigated for use within future helicopter rotor blades and the fan blades of turbine engines.
The Future Looks Bright for Composites in Aerospace
The future of composites within aerospace sets to take off new directions. Advanced composite materials will allow for aircraft and even spacecraft that look like something out of Star Wars.
Here at SMI Composites, our passion is for composite materials and changing the future. So, reach out to us today and see how we can get you the right composites for your aerospace projects.