Composite materials are big business in the aerospace industry
Composite materials and their future in the aerospace industry were key topics in the keynote speech from Dr. Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager for Boeing Research & Technology, at the TRAM Aerospace Conference at IMTS 2014 in Chicago, Ill. Composite materials have grown rapidly and are being used widely in commercial and military applications.
Hyslop said his department at Boeing, as well as other successful firms he’s worked with, focus their technology investments on extreme affordability, breakthrough performances, enduring sustainability, and being environmentally responsible. Hyslop mentioned a recent example where Boeing partnered with Russell Athletic, a company that makes sports equipment, and used some excess carbon fiber to provide them with shoulder pads that are 10% lighter, but are stronger and more durable.
Hyslop said that on a 787 jet, a little over 50% of the plane is made from composite materials, and that Boeing is continuously working on new developments and research on new developments. One he highlighted was research into ceramic matrix composites (CMC), which is designed to increase thermal performance to enable more advanced, efficient machines.
"Aviation’s history is written by pioneers who looked to go higher, faster, and better," Hyslop said. "And today’s pioneers have to carry on that responsibility as they continue their research."
He closed his keynote speech about the manufacturing industry as a whole and its impact on research and development and the impact it will have on all industries, beyond aerospace.
"For years, manufacturing was frowned upon and dismissed, but the recent economic revival as well as the technology changes have changed things," Hyslop said. "There is a manufacturing renaissance happening, and I believe manufacturing will be taking the lead in product development."
– Chris Vavra, content specialist, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org