Most companies in these times are trying to come up with products that cause little or no harm to the environment. The aerospace industry is no different. There are stricter environmental regulations put in place to control the amounts of emission by planes.
The rise of fuel prices has also been a key stimulator for innovation in the aerospace industry. This is leading to advanced Aerospace Composites.
Many manufacturing and assembling industries use composite materials, including the automotive industry. The pursuit of enhanced performance by these companies is the driving force behind the growth of these materials.
Moreover, these materials tend to be strong and contain excellent physical properties. It makes them a big part of the aerospace industry.
Below is all you need to know about composites.
What Are Composites?
Composite materials consist of two or more materials with different characteristics. These are then combined using their best properties. Wood and bone are examples of natural composite materials.
Which of these is an example of a composite material? There are several industry-made composites materials. The examples include carbon, glass, and aramid fibers.
Composites application is in both commercial, military, business jets, space crafts, and helicopters. The most recognized composite is carbon fiber due to its wide range of application.
Composite materials have several advantages over metals. They include high heat resistance, corrosion resistance, lightweight, high stiffness, high strength to weight ratio, and fatigue resistance. Their demand has increased over the years with carbon fiber, for example, used in cars, electronic devices, and plane.
On the other side, there are some disadvantages associated with composites. They include high production cost, damage tolerance, difficulty in developing them, and need special repair techniques.
Aerospace Composites Applications
Composites model both in the interior and external parts of a plane. There are several benefits to using composites. They include weight reduction and improving performance.
Aerospace composites have been in use for about four decades. The oldest is the boron-reinforced epoxy that used for the skins of the empennages in the US F-14 and F-15 fighter jets.
Due to research and development over the years, composite materials have improved. It allows usage in primary structures like wings and fuselages. This, after only being used for secondary structures earlier on.
In the Eurofighter, the use of composite materials is visible. The wings skins, rudder, forward fuselage, and flaperons rely on composite materials. 75% of the aircraft’s exterior is also made of toughened epoxy.
Also, the Eurofighter’s structural weight is then reinforced using carbon fiber. Eurofighters generally comprise between 20% and 25% of composite by weight. Dassault’s Raphael composite by weight is 26%, and the Saab Gripen and EADS Mako is between 20 to 25%
Composite materials are also used in the B2 stealth bomber. The B2 stealth bomber’s renown feature is avoiding radar detection. Thus, radar-absorbing material needs to be also added on the exterior of the aircraft.
At the same time, adding the material should not increase the weight of the plane. So, composite materials come in handy. The use of composite materials reduced an estimated 40000 pounds.
Commercial aircraft have also adopted the use of composite materials. The materials help in weight reduction and boosting the fuel economy of the aircraft. Most airline operators want to lower their operating costs.
Thus, planes with a good fuel economy will be more appealing. Both Airbus and Boeing use composite materials in their planes.
The first commercial aircraft builder to use composite materials was Airbus in 1983. The A300 and A310 rudder are both made using composite materials. In 1985, the use of the materials was only applied in the vertical tail fin.
The use of aerospace composites intensified with all the parts of the metal fin. It excluded fasteners being reduced to less than 100 through composites. The popularity of composites will continue increasing with it being used for the tail structure of the Airbus A320.
The A320 also had composite fuselage belly skins, fixed leading and trailing-edge bottom access panels. The deflectors, wheel doors, nacelles, main gear leg fairing doors, and fuselage fairings also rely on them. Composites ended up accounting for 28% of the weight the airframe of the A320.
Boeing wasn’t left behind; they also adopted composites in their planes. The Boeing 777 has about 20% composites by weight. Components like the horizontal stabilizer, wing fairings, passenger floor beams, engine fairings, vertical fun and Radom in the 777 use composite materials.
It is estimated that the use of the materials reduced over 5800 pounds from the plane. Boeing also uses composites in the 787 in the wing flaps, elevators, ailerons, Radom, upper and lower wing skin and fuselage. Boeing has also managed to come up with the lightest metal ever, the microlattice.
Composites are also used in making helicopters with their perfect strength to weight ration being a key factor. For example, the modern v22 tilt-rotor aircraft structural elements rely on composites.
The helicopter’s composites by weight are 50%. Composites also help in reducing the production costs of helicopters by reducing the number of parts needed.
Composites also play a role in the making of spacecrafts. The materials are also used in making heat shields, nose tips, rockets, and missiles motor cases. NASA is also using composites to develop future spacecraft that are more durable.
Using composites also allows NASA to build aircraft in different shapes. They are also playing a big role in futuristic companies like Boom Supersonic. It aims to create commercial planes that fly at supersonic speeds.
Due to their lightness and heat resistance, they are important for future developments in the aerospace industry.
Some companies are focused on developing composites. These companies will conduct studies to come up with the most advanced composites for their clients. Composite manufacturers will offer products based on the client’s needs and industry.
Aerospace composites are the backbone of future developments in the industry. The development of advanced composites will lead to a transformation in aerospace. It also facilitates space exploration.
Composites will also help in making aircrafts lighter. This will improve its fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. With the current trend, we can expect some impressive innovations soon.
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