The aerospace industry is one of the most high-tech fields, developing the latest in aircraft, space vehicle and guided missile technology, just to name a few applications. Several innovations are currently having a big influence on aerospace engineering.
Stronger, Lighter Materials
Materials can always be improved upon when it comes to optimal parts performance for the aerospace industry. Strong, yet lightweight, materials need to be able to resist extreme temperatures and environments, as well as perform at extremely high speeds. Ceramics and other nonmetals are being explored for their use in turbines because of their outstanding resistance to heat. With the help of graphene and carbon nanotubes, airplane wings are lighter weight, which makes them more fuel-efficient.
3D printing continues to progress and make a significant impact in many different industries. It’s expected to have a huge influence in the aerospace industry. Among the perks of 3D printing are the complex design of parts and the production of more durable parts that weigh less. It also allows for printing on demand of parts such as various aerospace fittings. If a company can’t get a part shipped in on time, it can be printed on location. Currently, Airbus 3D prints over 1,000 different parts for its A350. Regularly replaced spare parts are great 3D printing options for aerospace companies. In some cases, the construction tools themselves can be 3D printed.
With the advancement of aerospace technology, higher speeds, including transonic and supersonic speeds, must be allowed for. Aircraft must have the ability to move fluidly despite flight conditions and weight loads. The development of active structures ensures that aircraft perform as safely and efficiently as possible under harsh external aerodynamic forces. They accomplish this by being very adaptive to environmental changes while in operation (e.g., memory alloys).
Aerospace technology gives you a glimpse into the future of air and space travel. It never ceases to be exciting.