Characteristics of the New Generation of Aerospace Composites

Wed, Mar 01, 2023 at 9:00AM

Characteristics of the New Generation of Aerospace Composites

The aerospace industry is constantly seeking new materials that can improve the performance, safety, and efficiency of aircraft and spacecraft. In recent years, the development of new generation aerospace composites has revolutionized the industry, offering a range of unique characteristics that make them ideal for use in the design and construction of these vehicles.

Benzoxazine resin systems are beginning to be adopted within the aerospace community. Composites made with this resin system maintain the high strength-to-weight ratio expected from composite materials but also offer other benefits. These resins offer improved Fire-smoke-toxicity (FST) performance, increased operating temperatures, and low outgassing when compared to legacy resin systems.  All these features are important to airframe designers as they increase the performance and safety of the vehicle.

Another characteristic of new generation aerospace composites is their ability to resist damage. This has been accomplished several ways.  Traditional thermoset resins have benefitted from the addition of resin tougheners that improve interlaminar properties.  The use of thermoplastic matrices has also offered improved damage tolerance and even have capabilities to be repaired. This makes them ideal for use in high-stress environments, such as the harsh conditions encountered in space or during high-speed flight.

In addition to their physical properties, new generation aerospace composites also offer significant benefits in terms of design flexibility.  Many of the new materials allow for out of autoclave (OOA) processing and have reduced cure cycle times, which endear them to high volume production and reduced manufacturing costs. These materials can be molded into complex shapes and contours, allowing for the creation of unique and aerodynamically efficient aircraft designs. Furthermore, the use of composites also enables the integration of multiple functions into a single component, reducing the number of parts and simplifying the manufacturing process.

Another advantage of new generation aerospace composites is their ability to withstand extreme temperatures. These materials can maintain their structural integrity in extreme hot and cold conditions, making them ideal for use in space applications and highspeed flight. This also helps to improve the overall reliability and performance of the aircraft, as well as enhance its safety.

Finally, many new generation aerospace composites are also environmentally friendly. There is growing research into the use of natural fibers grown from renewable resources and can be recycled or reused at the end of their life, reducing waste, and minimizing the impact on the environment. Thermoplastic resins can be recycled endless times, and incorporating more efficient, lighter weight composite materials into a design significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and operating expenses over the lifespan of the vehicle, further contributing to a more sustainable aerospace industry.

In conclusion, the new generation of aerospace composites offers a range of unique characteristics that make them ideal for use in the design and construction of aircraft and spacecraft. From their high strength-to-weight ratio and damage resistance to their design flexibility and environmental sustainability, these materials are helping to drive innovation and improvement in the aerospace industry.

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