Many different Plastics find their way into Aerospace applications today. The opportunity to reduce weight has been a universal driving force for years. Each pound reduced translates to lower fuel costs, longer range, and higher efficiency throughout the life of the aircraft. Metals range from 4-6 times heavier than plastics, so the opportunity to find weight savings is significant.
A recent article on 3D printing notes that jet engine parts are being made of highly specialized ceramic materials through the use of 3D printing process. In the project by CFM and GE the companies estimate using 15% less fuel, which they estimate will save $1 million per year, per aircraft! The companies also noted these new engines will greatly reduce carbon emissions. Read more… http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514656/a-more-efficient-jet-engine-is-made-from-lighter-parts-some-3-d-printed/
In addition to these technologies many plastics are taking their place in aircraft. Highly specialized plastics are being compounded to reduce the need for lubrication. These plastic materials also offer significant options where thermal insulation is required, providing better results than more traditional metals. A few of the plastic materials we find being specified for aircraft use are:
- DuPont™ Vespel®. A top choice for Mechanical Actuators, Guides, Bushings, and Bearings
- Quadrant Nylatron family of Cast and Extruded Nylon products have been specified for a wide variety of wear requirements
- PEEK is available for Aerospace applications in its Virgin Form as well as in a host of enhanced versions. AIN Plastics stocks a significant and can get to you FAST.
- KYDEX for Interior Panels
These materials are fire rated for use in aircraft so specification into projects is easier. They also tend to provide high impact resistance, greater wear than traditional materials, and they are easy to machine and work with. All of these factors are making plastics the first choice for aircraft applications more often. For more information on aircraft and the use of plastic materials see our earlier post on this topic as well: http://ain-plastics.com/aerospace-utilizing-more-plastics/
Sales and Marketing Manager, DuPont™ Vespel®
ThyssenKrupp Materials NA
AIN Plastics Division