Of the many elements that humankind has learned to utilize for technological purposes, carbon is among the most important.
It is, literally, the very stuff of life. Therefore, carbon-based biology, the industry, and the economy still rely on for fuel. And, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, the advent of carbon fiber has had revolutionary implications for the aerospace industry.
Carbon fiber has tremendous tensile strength, has a low weight, and is extremely versatile. Here are a few of the many intriguing ways carbon fiber is being used in aerospace assembly.
1. Space Probes
In the elite vanguard of aerospace engineering is the design and construction of interplanetary space probes.
This is one of the most important fields for the application of carbon fiber in advanced aerospace assembly. The strength, durability, and lightweight of carbon fiber composites make them ideally suited for interplanetary exploration.
For instance, ESA’s Rosalind Franklin (formerly ExoMars) rover features a sophisticated carbon fiber chassis. And NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, whose mission is to study the sun, is protected by an advanced carbon fiber shield.
2. Air Taxis
Flying cars have been the dream of the aerospace manufacturing industry for many decades.
A big part of the delay in realizing this dream is that technology has lagged far behind aspiration. Designing a foolproof VTOL technology hasn’t been easy, and then there’s the need for advanced composite materials.
Carbon fiber fits the bill since it’s perfect for assembling strong, lightweight air taxis of the sort that will soon fill our skies.
3. Advanced Commercial Aircraft
Carbon fiber composites factored into the construction of common commercial aircraft.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, as well as the Airbus A350 XWB, are both pioneering this new way of assembling aircraft. Strong, lighter than aluminum, and moldable into any desired shape, carbon fiber is primed to revolutionize the manufacturing of new airplanes.
4. Private Aircraft
The manufacturers of private, leisure aircraft are also making use of advanced carbon fiber materials.
Lisa Airplanes, for instance, has relied on carbon composites in the design of its AKOYA seaplane, an ingenious aircraft that aims for an unladen weight of only 882 pounds.
5. 3D-Printed Parts
One of the drawbacks of carbon fiber in aerospace assembly is the cost and difficulty of the manufacturing process.
But new advances in additive manufacturing (i.e., 3-D printing) have opened up the possibility of far wider applications for this wonder material in the aerospace industry. Ultimately, the goal is to bring down costs and enable the ready use of carbon fiber materials in the burgeoning private space race.
Carbon Fiber: The Future of Aerospace Assembly
With its many remarkable properties, carbon fiber is at the cutting edge of aerospace applications. In a field where strong and lightweight materials are king, carbon fiber composites have a very bright future indeed.
At SMI Composites, we know all about carbon fiber and its many applications in the aerospace industry. Please feel free to contact us, and learn how we can supply you with the right composite materials for your business needs.