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.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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