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Engineering Materials
Aircraft Materials Lighten Up
7/26/2012

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Hexcel's fiberglass Acousti-Cap honeycomb core material combines sound dampening properties with lightweighting for aircraft engines.   (Source: Hexcel)
Hexcel's fiberglass Acousti-Cap honeycomb core material combines sound dampening properties with lightweighting for aircraft engines.
(Source: Hexcel)

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Beth Stackpole
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Composites not the only game in town
Beth Stackpole   7/26/2012 8:29:03 AM
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Very comprehensive overview of the state of materials exploration in the aerospace industry. It was interesting to me that companies don't see composites as the be-all, end-all solution--a surprise given that so much attention and hype is focused on their deployment. I was also pleased to see that companies are keeping somewhat of a watchful eye on sustainability concerns as they vet out these new materials.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Composites not the only game in town
Ann R. Thryft   7/26/2012 2:09:40 PM
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Beth, I also found it enlightening to discover the mix of materials being developed for, and used in, in bleeding-edge aircraft design. But composites are, in fact, a big part of all this, so it's not all hype. It was a big surprise, and encouraging, to see that sustainability concerns are finally reaching and influencing this industry, like so many others.

ChasChas
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Re: Composites not the only game in town
ChasChas   7/27/2012 11:08:26 AM
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With all the mass disappearing, empty spaces in the material, and bleeding air interactions, someday we may have a true airplane - made out of air.

CPDick
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Re: Composites not the only game in town
CPDick   7/27/2012 11:16:37 AM
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I saw no mention of cellular steel (superalloy) products. Inside and near turbine engines, the temperatures are too high for most of the materials mentioned. In fact the temperatures seem to be rising, to the point that many parts that were traditionally made of titanium alloys are failing. For quite a few years, we've been working both on traditional superalloy honeycomb and on other brazed cellular structures that can replace titanium and withstand much higher temperatures, and yet be weight-neutral or even weight-saving.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Composites not the only game in town
Ann R. Thryft   7/27/2012 12:52:48 PM
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CPDick, thanks for that information. We focused on structural and interior component materials for this feature, not engines, but that's good input. It's especially interesting that temperatures are outpacing titanium. Can you give us your company name for possible followup?

CPDick
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Re: Composites not the only game in town
CPDick   7/27/2012 3:01:44 PM
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You bet! It's Vertechs Enterprises (vertechsusa.com)

I just looked, and realized that the non-honeycomb sandwich products are not yet shown on our website. We have a number of such products that we have been developing and testing with major aerospace companies for quite a few years, and are just about to start producing our first full-scale product samples.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Composites not the only game in town
Ann R. Thryft   7/27/2012 3:13:15 PM
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CPDick, thanks. I'll check it out.

j-allen
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Are aircraft composites that radical?
j-allen   7/27/2012 4:01:25 PM
How totaly novel and unprecedented, building an airplane out of light strong fibrous composites.  Ideas like that don't grow on trees.  Wait---Or did they? 


Maybe there's a reason why Boeing located its first factory in Washington State.

jackiecox
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Re: Are aircraft composites that radical?
jackiecox   7/27/2012 10:22:50 PM
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sometimes new ideas generate new discovweries, consider a study of all species of bird feathers and the incredible design they are constructed by

jackiecox
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Re: Are aircraft composites that radical?
jackiecox   7/27/2012 10:56:58 PM
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sometimes new ideas generate new discovweries, consider a study of all species of bird feathers and the incredible design weight, lift, etc etc, flexible wings to use both mechanical power and atmospheric changes , perhaps the ultra lights culd take on a new perspective> my wing collection has some very old feathers that have not changed over time as I keep studing these designs which are incredible' I think there is legislation forbading feather collections, but I have a deep native american background, the race card and holocaust is not in my deck. My spirit remembers the genocide of americas 20,000 tribes, and the role buffalo soldiers played when freed. I worked for a time at LTV Aerospace in the 60's on the A-7 series, while no bird is powered with fuel they can indeed do some pretty tricky stunts, like gliding for hours, with small wing shifts , in acord with atmospheric variables, fins do compensate to keep on course, but consideration  of actual feathers may be in our future. whatever. Birds of prey do reach considerable speed, without any fuel at all, 

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