The plastic composite avalanche for aircraft is gaining speed. Hexcel, one of three major suppliers of carbon fiber composites, received a contract worth more than $4 billion to supply material for the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft through 2025. Airbus already has 360 firm orders for its A350 XWB, which includes three versions.
"Given that the A350 has roughly $5 million to $6 million of composite content per plane and this is only the first award to be announced, there is still a significant amount of content to be won by Hexcel and the other two composite producers, Cytec and Toray," said Credit Suisse analyst John McNulty. "In the event that [Hexcel] can get as much penetration on the A350 as they have with Airbus’s A380 platform–about 75.0%–this would equate to a potential of roughly $4.5 million per plane, and HXL is very optimistic on its prospects for future awards," McNulty said.
Hexcel will build significant new capacity, just as Toray did for the 787.
A composite based on a high-performance PEEK-like resin we told you about two years ago when it was still in R&D has now been licensed by the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for commercial manufacturing.
Microsoft, HP, Dassault, and other industry heavyweights in 3D printing have launched a new 3DP file format, 3MF. The consortium says the spec will more fully describe a 3D model and will be interoperable with multiple applications, platforms, services, and printers.
NASA's been working on several different ongoing projects for 3D-printed rocket engine components in metals and now it's reached another first in aerospace 3D printing: a full-scale, 3D-printed rocket engine component made of copper.
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