Elevating Aerospace Parts with Advanced Materials

Jun 4, 2024


Elevating Aerospace Parts with Advanced Materials

One of the major concerns in aerospace parts manufacturing is material–finding the right one that is both strong and lightweight. Over the years, aerospace technology has been able to advance because of the development of new materials, like lightweight composites with high strength to weight ratios, and metal alloys with better resistance to thermal stress. While aluminum is still a popular choice for the industry, other materials such as carbon fiber reinforced polymers have recently become more widely used as they become more commercially available to aerospace companies. 

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Aluminum Alloys for Aerospace Manufacturing

Aluminum alloys have long been used in aerospace parts manufacturing. Aluminum is a very abundant metal, making it relatively more cost effective, and the material is very light and strong. Aluminum also has the added benefit of being naturally resistant to corrosion and UV radiation, both excellent properties especially for equipment that reaches greater elevations or has to leave the atmosphere where UV exposure is especially prevalent. 

Another advantage of aluminum alloys is their versatility. Depending on the alloy’s composition, aluminum can be used to make a wide range of aircraft and landing components, from aircraft skins to fuel tank components and flight critical equipment. 

Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Polymers (CFRP)

CFRP is a unique type of plastic consisting of a base matrix of polymers reinforced with carbon fiber, and then cured. The result is an extremely lightweight material with high fatigue strength and low thermal expansion. While more expensive carbon fiber is a highly rigid and strong material commonly used in structural components.

One of the major concerns of aerospace engineers is balancing strength and weight constraints. Less weight leads to less fuel consumption and a much more efficient aircraft, hence why the strong, lightweight CFRP has grown in popularity. Carbon fiber can be shaped with ease to make a wide range of structural aircraft components, and has similar properties to aluminum, being corrosion resistant and highly durable. Depending on the other additives resins used in its production, its properties can be adjusted to suit certain needs as well. 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a ferrous alloy that’s widely used in aerospace manufacturing. Stainless steel is easy to machine and offers an excellent balance of performance and strength, especially in terms of high temperature resistance and corrosion. While not as popular as materials like aluminum and titanium, another common metal found in the industry, stainless steel is excellent for a variety of different applications in aircraft and spacecraft, and can be found in a variety of aerospace equipment components. While not as lightweight as aluminum or as strong as carbon fiber (depending on the resins used in the making of CFRP) stainless steel is a reliable choice for many different aerospace applications thanks to its high temperature and abrasion resistance. 

Looking for a parts manufacturer in the aerospace industry?

Prospect Group is a leading manufacturer of tooling, propulsion components, aerospace parts, and more for the aerospace industry. We are AS9100D and ISO 9001:2015 certified, and trusted by some of the biggest names in spacecraft and aircraft manufacturing to create custom tooling and components that suit their needs. Check out our website to learn more.