Carbon Fiber in the Aerospace Industry: Past, Present, and Future

aerospace industry

The products and services of the aerospace industry represent some $734 billion to the world economy. Experts estimate that for every million in direct sales, six jobs are bolstered in the sector.

For the aerospace industry to remain profitable and on the cutting edge, it has many times reinvented how. Maybe nothing signifies this more than the rise of carbon fiber in aircraft.

Carbon fiber is a cost-effective way to maintain lightweight, strong, and durable materials in aircraft. It has primarily replaced aluminum, which once dominated the aerospace and defense industries.

Also, applications for carbon fiber are helping aerospace leaders cut costs. These lightweight materials help ensure the longevity and dependability of these complex machines.

In the following article, we’ll discuss the ongoing importance of carbon fiber in aerospace.

What Is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fiber atoms are formulated in long strings of crystals. The fibers are thinner than human hair and thousands of times stronger.

The fibers were first manufactured by Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan for use in the light bulb. However, fibers weren’t considered a viable manufacturing material until the 1950s.

To manufacture with carbon fiber, you weave the fibers into a fabric. You can also turn the fibers into rope or a cord.

If you add epoxy, you can form solid bodies with the fibers. Therefore, welding and bolting formulate carbon fiber materials into almost any shape. These new parts and pieces have few week points since there are no seams or weld points.

Aerospace Industry Applications

At one time, aluminum was a critical material in the aerospace industry. The first commercial aircraft were nearly 70% aluminum. Strong and lightweight, aluminum was an inexpensive way to manufacture high-quality aircraft.

Now, however, aluminum makes up only 20% of modern aircraft. Carbon fiber and other composite metals have primarily replaced the material.

A feature that both aluminum and carbon fiber share are their ability to handle high temperatures. Heat resistance means carbon fiber does not expand and contract with temperature extremes.

Carbon fibers make up much of the fuselage, wings, and tails of aircraft like the Boening 787 Dreamliner.  Also, used in essential areas of modern spacecraft like those used by Space X and Virgin Galactic.

The Future of Carbon Fiber

The advent of carbon fiber within aerospace has been found in both commercial aircraft and spacecraft. Since the material’s durability is without question, it is finding itself in more applications.

This is excellent news for the private industry as products last longer and require less maintenance and repair. In addition, expect to see more carbon fiber applications in conventional ground transportation.

For example, innovators need lightweight material in their electric and futuristic hover vehicles.

Do You Need Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fiber is changing the manufacturing landscape with its durability and inventive uses. The product is not only an ever-growing mainstay of the aerospace industry but is an array of products from medical to manufacturing.

Your imagination may be the only limiting factor for the product’s use.

Interested in learning more about carbon fiber and its application for your business? Contact us today to learn more.

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