The Rise of Composite Materials in the Aeronautics Industry

A quick history

Since they appeared in the 1960s, composite materials have made significant progress in recent years. Designed by assembling at least two non-miscible materials with a high penetration capacity and complementary properties, allows the creation of heterogeneous materials that a single material does not have.

This type of material has therefore very quickly offered new applications for the aeronautics sector, where manufacturing is subject to high efficiency and significant pressures related to production costs.

Nowadays, manufacturing has become more stable and robust thanks in particular to the emergence of automation in workshops. However, industrial requirements have also changed, imposing shorter delivery times, reduced complexity, cheaper materials and additional functionality.

What interests for the aeronautics industry?

This type of material is highly sought after in the aeronautics industry: light, resistant and increasingly efficient, they have greatly improved aircraft performance, in particular by reducing fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions. They have also made it possible to create much more robust and rigid devices, capable of withstanding difficult climate conditions, and even withstanding various projectiles such as hail or birds. They are found in various parts of devices such as engines, or even the framework.

With regular innovations over the past few years, composite materials are still evolving. As more efficient, lighter, and stronger materials; they must now solve major problems: be reusable and recyclable, have a low ecological footprint, improve compatibility between materials, or even contribute to reducing industrialization times.

Assembly: a major challenge for the aeronautics sector

Assembly is an important issue in the aviation industry; any change in the assembly process can have a significant impact on the certification standard for large commercial aircraft, as well as on the total weight of these aircraft. The reliability and maintainability of assembly parts is therefore essential.

Additive manufacturing has therefore become one of the means to overcome some of these challenges. Since its introduction more than 30 years ago, additive manufacturing has evolved considerably, making it possible today to meet two important challenges: scale and flexibility. This will reduce the capital required to achieve economies of scale (by printing several parts simultaneously), but also by increasing the variety of design that can be produced from the same capital.

Also to be read: “Additive Manufacturing in 2019 : What are the prospects?”

How will a materials database help to meet tomorrow’s challenges?

A solution specialized in material data will make it possible to meet a certain number of constraints by guaranteeing the reliability and optimal quality of the data. In view of the large amount of data available, their capitalisation will allow a real enhancement of the data by ensuring complete traceability. This will allow the sharing of information with different employees in real time, and optimize the profitability of services by minimizing development costs. Supplies will be facilitated since the structuring of materials in a database will facilitate the search for alternative materials. In addition, it will therefore be easier to know whether or not a test has been carried out on a material, and thus avoid duplication and costs related to it.

Discover our customer testimonials in the field of aeronautics, or consult our TEEXMA® Materials solution: the software to effectively manage all your material data.