Aerospace Utilizing More Plastics



When you talk with Paul it is clear that he truly enjoys his work and shares a passion for flight, with his aerospace colleagues. Paul says, “To me, It’s almost magical to see a Boeing 777 loaded with over 400 people in it’s cabin, thundering down the runway powered by just 2 jet engines.”  The “Boeing Triple 7,” as its now known, was launched in 1990, over 20 years ago.  At that time it was unheard of to fly around the world in a passenger jet with only 2 engines. Thanks to the Triple 7 plane Boeing proved that long flights were indeed safe and with that realization Boeing changed air travel forever.

Paul noted that on the first Boeing 777 plane it was highlighted that 10% of the plane was made of non-traditional composites and yes – PLASTIC!  It was also the first jumbo passenger jet to implement “fly by wire” controls, now considered the norm for newer planes.  As we’ve all heard in the news, rising fuel costs have dramatically affected travel cost whether by air or other means. Since fuel is the largest expense on a commercial flight, weight factors have become precious numbers in the calculations of whether a new plane makes sense for an airline to commit to adding it to their fleet.  The Boeing 777 LR lifts off at nearly 750,000 lbs. and that’s a lot of weight to move around, so any savings in weight can add up over time to a big difference in cost! DuPont™ Vespel’s® SP-1 and SP-21 can be found on many components including the engine area and many of the control systems.

Today Boeing is starting to deliver the first of over 700 orders for their newest aircraft, the B-787 Dreamliner.  This engineering gem will cut operation costs by over 30% compared to a large B-767 jetliner.  It’s no surprise that Composites and plastics will replace even more steel than ever before on a jumbo jet.

 

Image showing the average use of plastic materials in the Boeing 787 Airplanes

All percentages on useage are from published Boeing information

AIN Plastics is one of several ThyssenKrupp Material Divisions that have been deeply entrenched in Aerospace for many years.  Steel and aluminum have been major components of aircraft since the Wright Brothers determined that wood and fabric could only go so far in air travel, and with the high tech engineering plastics we now have AIN Plastics expertise has been welcomed into the aerospace business as well. Paul says he is not surprised that these days plastics are finding their way into more parts of today’s jetliners just as they are finding their way into cars, trucks and other vehicles.  In both aerospace and automotive industries the benefits of choosing plastics stem from many of the same reasons:

  1. Lower weight means less fuel used
  2. Specialized Engineering Plastics can eliminate the need for lubrication (like internally lubricated DuPont™ Vespel’s® SP-22 and SCP-5050)
  3. Plastics can extend the life of mating parts because they wear well under extreme conditions such as high heat
  4. Plastics can last longer than steel in corrosive environments
  5. In some cases plastics can rival or surpass the properties of previous materials including metals, wood, and more.

Throughout Paul’s work in the plastics industry he has found when it comes to plastics, no material is more high tech than DuPont™ Vespel®.  He explained this family of Polyimide Thermoplastics can handle temperatures over 550°F  with excursions up to 900°F.  Some Vespel® is graphite filled to reduce friction, others have a coefficient of thermal expansion close to that of steel. The unique combination of benefits is what makes Vespel® the choice material for Actuators, Bearings, Bobbins, Bushings and many other components that work behind the scenes to keep the mechanical functions of an airplane functioning. In fact, DuPont™ Vespel’s® use in aircraft is mandated by ASTM Standards (ASTM D 6456-99, MIL-R-46198) as the material to be used in numerous applications. For more on this, see our earlier blog post titled “When Saving a Little can Cost you a Lot!” Paul noted too that “AIN Plastics is the DuPont™ Vespel® Authorized distributor so you can always buy with confidence that you are getting authentic DuPont™ Vespel®.”

To find out more contact AIN Plastics today and Paul Hanson or one of our other AIN Plastics sales team will be happy to share the benefits of high tech plastics with you and more importantly, work with you to engineer these components into your products. When it comes to highly specialized materials like DuPont™ Vespel® there are many things to consider and our sales team is knowledgeable in products as well as applications so we can assist you in finding just the right material for your needs.

For more about DuPont™ Vespel® visit our website: ainplastics.com or call us toll free: 877.246.7700

Now that you are thinking about plastics on airplanes, the next time you jump onboard,  take a look around, see where plastics have made for a more comfortable and safe ride.  FYI – Even the mirrors may just be a polycarbonate supplied by AIN Plastics. Most of all, enjoy a safe and happy trip!

See you again soon!

 

 

 

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