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Composite materials in Aerospace
One of the most important elements for “air-machines” is the weight, so designers and engineers are continuously developing lightweight materials. Composite materials are crucial for weight reduction; therefore, they are commonly used in the aviation industry – mostly carbon fiber, glass and aramid-reinforced epoxy. The production of composites has doubled since the last century and another new composite appears approximately every five years.
Composites are very flexible and are used in many ways: for structural applications, for exterior (wings, turbines, rotor blades, windows and enclosures) as well for interior components (parts of cabins, seats, trolleys, ceilings, etc.) in all types of aircraft – planes, spaceships, hot air balloons, helicopters, etc.
In which areas are the most common composites used?
Carbon fibers – very fragile and with a unique fatigue behavior, it is the most common used composite in aviation industry
Aramid fibers – used to create very solid and very light bulkhead honeycomb sheets which are used, e.g., fuel tanks, floors or also for wing and trailing components
Nowadays, the replacement of metal components by composite-based components is very popular and still on the rise, bringing several advantages:
- substantial weight reduction of around 20 – 50%
- tailored mechanical properties by lay-up design
- thermal resistance – composites don't expand and don't change drastically due to temperature change
- damage resistance
- impact resistance
- elimination of some corrosion problems
- low density
Usage of composites may carry some disadvantages as well:
- high costs
- repair is more challenging as well as detection of damage in interior structure
Interested in this topic?
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