In the aerospace industry, there’s no room for error. Aircraft manufacturers have various material choices, and carbon fiber is quickly becoming one of the most popular.
While other materials are still common, more airplane parts are being made using carbon fiber. It offers a range of benefits that make it more suitable than most of the alternatives available.
Let’s take a closer look at why engineers prefer to use carbon fiber in airplanes over other material options.
Strength to Weight Ratio
Perhaps the main benefit of carbon fiber is that it’s incredibly strong relative to its weight. Aerospace materials need to be strong, but weight is always a key factor.
Aircraft can be exposed to some extreme forces, so all parts need to be able to stand up to these for a long time. All engineers work to keep aircraft weight to a minimum, and carbon fiber helps with this.
For comparison, steel can weigh about 10 times as much as carbon fiber, so an engineer can cut down the weight of parts by using carbon fiber composites. While these parts can be a lot lighter, they’re still strong enough for their applications. It’s often used for different aircraft parts such as wings, tails, and fuselages.
Resistance to Corrosion, Heat, and Chemicals
Aircraft often operate under quite extreme conditions, so they need to be able to withstand them well. Carbon fiber is corrosion-resistant, so there’s no concern about rust. As such, exposure to moisture isn’t a concern.
It’s chemical resistant, which is something else that can be beneficial for aircraft. This improvement in environmental efficiency over other materials makes it preferable.
Airplanes are also often exposed to extreme temperatures, and this mustn’t lead to any issues. Carbon fiber parts won’t warp or deform at high temperatures. This will help prevent any failures, even with extended use.
It’s worth noting that carbon fiber does have one vulnerability; UV light. Fortunately, protective coatings are available and they’re very effective. A coated part can often last through years of exposure to UV rays without any issues.
Versatility of Parts
The structure and design of airplanes have advanced significantly over the years. Technological improvements have led to aircraft that are faster, have longer ranges, and are far better suited for their purpose.
This is only possible as manufacturers have been able to produce more intricate and complex parts. Carbon fiber is a very versatile and flexible material, so it’s possible to make complicated parts with a high degree of accuracy.
SMI Composites uses a range of manufacturing processes to produce the best quality parts. All tools are created in-house which allows for improved accuracy.
The Future of Carbon Fiber in Airplanes
It’s safe to say that we’ll continue to see carbon fiber in airplanes in the future with more manufacturers taking advantage of the many benefits it offers. It’s incredibly strong, lightweight, durable, and versatile, making it perfect for aerospace applications.
SMI Composites is a leading supplier of custom carbon fiber parts. We use a range of processes such as autoclave curing, out-of-autoclave curing, bladder molding, cast molding, and compression molding to produce the best parts available. Let us know what you need and we’ll send you a free quote.