While I'v got an affection for plastics, I think it does have its limitations. There will need to be a lot more empirical testing of plastic in airplane body parts before the general public will be ready to fly in a plastic plane.
Alcoa calls this product a "third-generation" aluminum-lithium alloy. The "second-generation" aluminum-lithium alloys have been around since at least the 1980s. They are used fairly extensively in space applications, with the best-known being the Space Shuttle external tank. They are also used in military aerospace applications (for example, the MiG-29M airframe). However, they are less widely used in commercial applications. I think the biggest reasons are cost and unfamiliarity. Another issue is anisotropy of properties, although this is an issue with composites as well. Alcoa claims to have addressed this with the new generation of alloys: http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/innovation/papers_patents/pdf/LMT2007_110.pdf
Wow. Looking at the link to the information about these alloys, it makes you wonder why their use isn't more widespread: lower density; higher tensile strengths; higher elastic modulus. Where've these alloys been up to now?
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.