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Engineering Materials

Aircraft Materials Lighten Up

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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.

ScotCan
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Re: Composites not the only game in town
ScotCan   8/13/2012 5:23:17 PM
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It really shouldn't be a surprise that composites are not the be all and end all of advanced structures. Aluminum has served the aircraft industries well and is (relatively speaking) a fail-safe material...dings, dents and cracks are all fixable in aluminum....dings in composites you don't know about until you've got 12 feet of delamination flapping in the breeze. Dents require trepanning the damage out of the composite and rebuilding the location. Things like leading edges in composites are fine until you have a bird strike then it's easier to replace the whole leading edge. A bird strike on an aluminum leading edge is field fixable by any competent sheet metal basher...most get you home fixes are good enough for a number of flights since the pilot will be able to view the fix and make a decision on whether to fly. Try making the same decision on a composite fix and you don't know whether its good bad or indifferent. Alcoa et al are not going to go out of business because the new fad is composites...in fact they've still got a lot up their sleeves....variations in ARALL and GLARE are just two of the aluminum/composite hybrids that'll run circles around pure composites

 

CPDick
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Iron
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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Gold
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, 

Ed Fuller
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Iron
Re: Are aircraft composites that radical?
Ed Fuller   8/1/2012 5:25:39 PM
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One of the major reasons William Boeing chose Seattle to build his airplane factory was the ready availability of spruce (particularly Sitka spruce aka "Aircraft Spruce").

jacksos1
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Iron
Thanks for the great article!
jacksos1   7/31/2012 2:45:36 PM
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I appreciate you including us in the discussion.

 

Cheers, Susan

www.aerospace.basf.com

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Thanks for the great article!
Ann R. Thryft   8/1/2012 12:02:06 PM
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BASF's website at the link Susan gives below has a clickable overall diagram of the numerous types of plastics and other materials for an airplane manufactured by the company. While high-level, I found this info helpful in my background research. Clicking on any of the categories leads to a different diagram giving more detail. For example, the high-level diagram on the structural materials page http://www.aerospace.basf.com/structural-materials/ gives an idea of where different types of composites, thermoplastics, PIM and polyurethane materials might be used in an aircraft.

jacksos1
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Re: Thanks for the great article!
jacksos1   8/3/2012 4:11:48 PM
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I should also clarify that the Divinycell F is manufactured by Diab using BASF materials.  Thanks.

Susan

notarboca
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Gold
Possible use of this technology
notarboca   8/1/2012 12:43:10 AM
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I see this technology as being useful in the manufacture of jackscrews, ths component that is often used to actuate control surfaces.  If it was constructed of a lightweight plastic with a low coefficent of friction, this would be less inertia needed to move the jackscrew (energy saving for the drive motor) and could possibly lessen the need for lubrication substances.  Remember the Alaska Airlines DC-9 that crashed due to failure of the jackscrew from inadequate/wrong tytpe of grease?

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