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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Materials in Aerospace Engineering - 2

Composites

The use of composites in the aerospace industry has increased dramatically since the 1970s. Traditional materials for aircraft construction include aluminium, steel and titanium. The primary benefits that composite components can offer are reduced weight,  and assembly simplification. The performance advantages associated with reducing the weight of aircraft structural elements has been the major impetus for military aviation composites development. Although commercial carriers have increasingly been concerned with fuel economy, the potential for reduced production and maintenance costs has proven to be a major factor in the push towards composites. Composites are also being used increasingly as replacements for metal parts on older planes.
 
Composites are also used in the marine industry e.g. submarines, although on the engineering side, performance benefits are much more significant for aircraft than ships. Although the two industries are so vastly different, lessons can be learned from aircraft development programs that are applicable to marine structures. Material and process development, design methodologies, qualification programs and long-term performance are some of the fields where the marine designer can adapt the experience that the aerospace industry has developed. New aircraft utilize what would be considered high performance composites in marine terms. These include carbon, boron and aramid fibers combined with epoxy resins. Such materials have replaced fiberglass reinforcements, which are still the backbone of the marine industry. However, structural integrity, ability to manufacture, and performance at elevated temperatures are some concerns common to both industries.

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This topic will continue in Part - 3

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