7 Aerospace and Defense Companies Cutting Weight with Composites
From General Electric to Raytheon, more and more aerospace and defense companies are turning to composites to cut weight. Keep reading to learn which companies are expanding their use of composites and all the benefits they’ve discovered as they’ve converted to these high-tech materials.
General Electric has started building its commercial aircraft engines with carbon fiber. Engineers are replacing rotating metal components with CMCs (ceramic matrix composites) made from silicon with ceramic-coated silicon carbide fibers. These CMCs are just as tough as metals but can operate at higher temperatures.
Using these composites, the engines shed their weight by two-thirds, making the planes they power more fuel-efficient and significantly cheaper.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was the first commercial Boeing airplane to make massive use of composite material. Its airframe was made with nearly half carbon fiber reinforced plastic and other composites. The use of composite materials helped design and materials engineers cut the plane’s weight by 20%.
The Boeing 787 also features composite wings with an aerodynamic, flexible design. These wings’ flexibility is made possible by the composite materials, including carbon-reinforced polymer, that comprise about 50% of wings.
These composite materials reduce maintenance and fatigue in addition to cutting significant weight.
Pratt and Whitney
Aerospace manufacturer Pratt and Whitney recently opened a new facility to produce CMC turbine airfoils. This new 60,000 square-foot engineering, development, and production facility is dedicated to creating CMCs for aerospace applications.
These CMCs are made of silicon carbide ceramic fibers. By using CMCs, Pratt and Whitney will significantly improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions and their carbon footprint.
The Collins Aerospace Composite Center creates aerospace composite materials for military and commercial applications. Collins Aerospace composites are made of non-conductive glass fiber with an epoxy resin.
These composites have a variety of benefits, including cost savings, significant reductions in emissions and energy consumption, and weight reduction. These composites can reduce the weight of aerospace components by 20-50%.
Airbus utilizes advanced composites throughout its aerospace line. One composite that is often used is carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic or CFRP. CFRP is extremely strong for its weight reduction level and has less sensitivity to fatigue and corrosion.
The A350 XWB plane features a significant application of CFRP composites throughout its airframe. Most of the plane’s wing is composed of carbon composites. CFRP reduces the jetliner’s weight and lowers maintenance costs.
Raytheon and Lockheed
In a new project, Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin will be developing models to optimize composite materials for hypersonic applications. Design and materials engineers will use these high-temperature Carbon/Carbon composite materials to create defense and missile components. This project will minimize any issues in using composite materials and increase their manufacturability.
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